On Wednesday, July 14, the First Vice President of the United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV), Diosdado Cabello, revealed that the woman who was going to be kidnapped and handed over to Colombia by the opposition leader, Javier Tarazona, could be the former Colombian senator Aída Merlano.
The politician mentioned during his TV show Con el Mazo Dando, broadcast by the public network Venezolana de Televisión, that Tarazona had long tried to carry out the abduction of the former senator who has been politically persecuted by President Iván Duque, using his Fundaredes NGO as a façade.
In 2018, Merlano was sentenced to 15 years in prison in Colombia for corruption and illegal possession of weapons, after having participated in Colombia’s common practice of buying votes. Merlano was captured on January 28, 2020 in Venezuela’s Zulia state by the Special Actions Forces (FAES). The former congresswoman, a fugitive from Colombia, escaped from Colombian authorities in October 2019 while attending a medical appointment in a Hollywood movie-style operation.
A few weeks after being detained in Venezuela, she requested political asylum, but no information on that request has been disclosed. During a televised statement she provided to Venezuelan authorities, she confirmed that the purchase and sale of votes is common policy within the Colombian Senate. “I witnessed high sums of money delivered in presidential campaigns, such as Alvaro Uribe’s,” she said.
“Tarazona had three cellphones seized [after being arrested], and it took five days to download all the information in one of them,” Cabello added. “From the five days of information being downloaded, it is coming out that they came to kidnap a woman from Colombia, Merlano. They paid him $36,000 for that job. The phones talk.”
Aída Merlano was convicted in her native country after committing an alleged electoral crime and other irregular actions during Duque’s electoral campaign. Now, she is a politician persecuted by the neighboring country for all the information she has on illegal practices in Colombian politics. Today, she is in the hands of the Venezuelan justice, prosecuted for identity theft and use of false documents.
Featured image: Aída Merlano being escorted by Venezuelan law enforcement officers before being presented and giving testimony to Venezuelan judicial authorities. File photo.
(La IguanaTV) with Orinoco Tribune content
Translation: Orinoco Tribune