Public protests after Colombian mayor's daughter kidnapped
Monday 10 October 2011
Thousands of teachers and students have gone on strike in protest at the kidnapping of the 10-year-old daughter of a Colombian mayor, the latest episode of intimidation and violence by suspected left-wing rebels trying to ensure their candidates secure victory in elections.
Nhora Valentina Muñoz, 10, was snatched and bundled into a car while walking to school 10 days ago in a kidnap widely believed to have been carried out by a left-wing guerrilla army operating in the eastern province of Arauca. The kidnapping has sparked outrage even in a country with a long history of election violence where armed groups battle it out to put politicians in place who will provide protection for their smuggling and drugs businesses.
Teachers and fellow students have held rallies and religious vigils demanding the girl's immediate release. The Pope has also said he is praying daily for her safe return. The government has offered a reward, with the Interior Minister, German Vargas Lleras, calling the kidnapping a "crime against humanity".
The girl's father, Jorge Enrique Muñoz Calvo, told The Independent: "We are so concerned about her, and feel an emptiness all the time. She should not have to go through this," He said they were not sure who kidnapped her because no demands had been made. But the smaller of two rebel groups in the area, the ELN, blamed the bigger, FARC, for the kidnapping, and in a video message called on the local commanders to say what had happened to her.
FARC, a leftist rebel army that claims to be fighting against Colombia's elite ruling class, has traditionally funded its operations through drugs and kidnappings. It has been at war with the government since the 1960s.
Fabiá* Hernández from the Election Observation Mission (MOE) said political power had a direct influence over the control of illegal smuggling. "This means winning the elections can make big profits for groups, and the kidnapping of the daughter is a way to influence who wins the election."
Since campaigning began, MOE reports that in Arauca province, which borders Venezuela, six candidates and one government employee have been kidnapped. Eleven candidates have been threatened and a judge murdered. Across the country more than two dozen candidates have been killed in the past five months.
Mr Muñoz said a major concern was that his daughter might be injured in any rescue attempt.
- 1 BBC election debate: The one photo that summed up the whole 90-minute leaders debate
- 2 18th century sex toy found in 'toilet of sword fighting school' in Poland
- 3 'I wish my teacher knew...': Young students share their 'heartbreaking' worries in notes
General Election 2015: David Cameron catching up in polls – but he badly needs a clear lead
South Africa xenophobic attacks: Shops looted and violence on streets of Johannesburg as foreigners are forced to hide in police stations
Earthworms rain down from skies over Norway, puzzling scientists
18th century sex toy found in 'toilet of sword fighting school' in Poland
'I wish my teacher knew...': Young students share their 'heartbreaking' worries in notes
The only black face in the Ukip manifesto is on the page about overseas aid
Ukip is the only main political party to not address LGBT rights in its manifesto
If I’m being racially abused I don’t need a stranger with a saviour complex to rescue me
BBC election debate: The one photo that summed up the whole 90-minute leaders debate
Religion isn't growing, it is becoming vigorous in its demise, says philosopher AC Grayling
General Election 2015: Polish prince challenges Nigel Farage to a duel over immigration question
£30000 - £40000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: Front-End UI Application ...
£18000 - £26000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They work with major vehicle ma...
£27000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Domestic Service Only Engineers are requ...
£23600 - £27500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The Employability Service withi...