Home International Slain Colombian governor lacked adequate security, says family

Slain Colombian governor lacked adequate security, says family


Bogota : Relatives of Luis Francisco Cuellar, a Colombian governor who was abducted and killed this week by suspected FARC rebels, have said that the politician had insufficient police protection despite having been kidnapped on four other occasions.

Luis Fernando Cuellar, son of the slain governor of the southern province of Caqueta, told several local radio outlets Wednesday that only three police officers had been assigned to protect his father.

He also said that hours before the abduction one of the policemen who made up the security contingent had said they needed to be “very careful” because there were “rumours” about plans to attack the governor.

Cuellar’s wife, Imelda Galindo, said shortly after the kidnapping that often just one police officer was guarding their home, as was the case Monday night when the abduction occurred.

The governor was abducted by kidnappers wearing Colombian army uniforms who “apparently are with the FARC”, provincial government secretary Edilberto Ramon Endo said late Monday in disclosing the kidnapping.

After hurling a grenade at the front door of the residence, the assailants opened fire, killing one of Cuellar’s police bodyguards before entering the home and seizing the governor. Two other bodyguards who rushed to the scene after the attack had begun were wounded.

The abductors bundled Cuellar into a vehicle and took off in the direction of nearby mountains, Endo said.

Cuellar was found with his throat slit Tuesday, which would have been his 69th birthday, in a rural area near Florencia, the provincial capital.

Although no group has claimed responsibility for the kidnap-murder of Cuellar, President Alvaro Uribe said members of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia’s, or FARC’s, Teofilo Forero column were to blame.

Hours before Cuellar’s body was found, Uribe had publicly ordered the armed forces to mount a rescue mission for him and all the hostages held by the FARC.

The group continues to hold around two-dozen captured police and military personnel as bargaining chips for a prisoner swap, although it has announced its intention to free two of the soldiers and hand over the body of a third who died in captivity.

Most relatives of the hostages oppose rescue attempts and urge the Uribe government to negotiate the release of their loved ones.

The conservative Uribe’s strong approval ratings after more than seven years in office are largely based on his US-backed military’s success in weakening the FARC and reducing their numbers in half to about 8,000 combatants.

“He didn’t deserve that. He was a very generous man; he loved to be with humble people,” his wife said Wednesday amid sobs, adding that she and her husband – a cattle rancher – had spent 41 “wonderful” years together.