April 9, 2012 / 5:31 PM / 8 years ago

Costa Rica diplomat is latest Venezuela kidnap victim

CARACAS (Reuters) - Kidnappers have seized a Costa Rican diplomat in the latest high-profile abduction in crime-plagued Venezuela, authorities of both countries said on Monday.

Guillermo Cholele, an attache at his country’s embassy in Caracas, was kidnapped on Sunday night by unknown assailants, who apparently also took his car, Costa Rica’s Foreign Ministry said.

“A telephone call to the diplomat’s home mentioned a ransom request and added that he was in a good state of health,” the ministry added in a statement.

Abductions are rife in Venezuela, where violent crime is routinely listed as citizens’ No. 1 worry. The most common are “express kidnappings,” normally short and motivated purely by money.

There has been a worrisome surge in violence against diplomats in the past year. Mexico’s ambassador was briefly kidnapped in January, and the daughter of a Chilean consul was shot to death at a police roadblock last month.

Venezuela’s opposition, which is hoping to topple President Hugo Chavez in an October election, says the government only shows urgency in the fight on crime when foreign or high-profile victims are involved.

Seeking to counter that impression, the government last week launched two new organizations to combat crime.

Reporting by Mario Naranjo in Caracas and Isabella Cota in San Jose; Writing by Andrew Cawthorne; Editing by Brian Ellsworth and Peter Cooney

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