Body of Venezuelan migrant murdered in Colombia repatriated

CÚCUTA, COLOMBIA (AFP) – The body of one of the young Venezuelan migrants murdered in Colombia was repatriated Sunday (Oct 17) following international outrage over their deaths.

Colombian authorities said the two youths, one of whom was a minor, were murdered by an “illegal armed group.” The remains of Jackson Enrique Arriaga, 23, were given to his aunt Auricia Moreno in Cucuta, Colombia, she told AFP. Arriaga, the father of a three-year-old daughter, had migrated to Colombia almost two years ago due to the economic crisis in Venezuela.

His body will be transported to the northeastern city of Tibu, where he and the other youth were killed, and from there will be taken to Zulia state in Venezuela.

“I make a call to the Venezuelan youth: go back to your country,” Moreno said in tears. “Today it was Jackson, tomorrow it could be one of you. Return to Venezuela.”

Videos and photos shared on social media appeared to show the two migrants trying to steal clothing from a shop in Tibu, on the border with Venezuela – an area rife with criminal gangs.

Images seemingly from after the two were allegedly caught stealing show the young men with their wrists bound with tape, surrounded by people giving them a warning: “We don’t want to see you lying by the side of a road tomorrow. We’re handing you over to authorities.” The younger of the two was pictured carrying a red school backpack.

Other images show their bodies covered in blood by the side of a rural path after they were apparently shot in the stomach.

A piece of cardboard with the words “thieves” had been placed on the younger Venezuelan.

“Our family has not even had time to really think about what happened,” Moreno said. “We found out through social media because those videos went viral.”

She said she did not know who the minor was, and that she did not believe her nephew had been robbing a store Local media reported the minor’s body had already been repatriated.

Tibu is the site of Colombia’s largest plantation of coca leaves, the main ingredient used in the manufacture of cocaine.

Various armed groups in the country are battling for control of the lucrative drug trafficking market.

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