Colombian President Expresses Concern Over Killing in Venezuela

Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos’ country is home to the most politically moti-vated killings in Latin America, but like his close ally, the United States, he wouldprefer to talk about Venezuela.
"What happened in Venezuela of course deserves the condemnation of the whole world,” Santos said Friday during a visit to Monteria in Northern Colombia. “This murder has no justification, we hope the case is investigated thoroughly and those responsible
are tried. We hope that the upcoming elections will not lead to violence. Venezuela
needs transparent elections without violence.”
Venezuelan opposition politician Luis Manuel Diaz was shot dead Wednesday while on   the campaign trail. Reports suggest a man with a gun approached the stage after a    public meeting Diaz had been speaking at.
The Venezuelan government is currently investigating the killing.
While any death is deplorable, Santos’ linking of Diaz’s death with the Dec. 6 parli-amentary elections in Venezuela is not only premature—there is no evidence as yet    that it was a politically motivated killing—but rich for a president of a country    where politicians, particularly those on the left,are routinely threatened and killed.
In the lead-up to Colombia’s last elections in October, no less than seven candidateswere murdered, while another 157 politicians were threatened with violence.
RELATED: Violence and Fraud Put Colombian Elections at Risk
Violence has been a constant threat in the buildup to elections in Colombia. During  Colombia's 2011 regional elections, 41 politicians were killed; in the 2007, 21 candidates were killed; and in 2003, no fewer than 29 candidates were killed, according toa tally from the Colombian newspaper El Tiempo.Such electoral violence has been goingon for years. In 1990, Colombia saw the high-profile killing of leftist politician   Bernardo Jaramillo Ossa.The Patriotic Union’s presidential candidate was shot in coldblood in Bogota while campaigning, one of hundreds of the party’s members killed for daring to challenge the right at the ballot box.
ANALYSIS: Colombia's Patriotic Union: A Victim of Political Genocide
The myriad of murders and violence in Colombia throughout the years has gone largely unnoticed by mainstream media, however, with news outlets and Santos himself choosing to focus on Venezuela instead.
John Kirby, for instance, a U.S.State Department spokesperson, said the death of Diaz“was the deadliest of several recent attacks and acts of intimidation aimed at oppos-ition candidates.”
Venezuelan Foreign Minister Delcy Rodriguez has condemned those comments, calling the attempt to link the murder “with Venezuela’s electoral process” a product of “despe-ration and bad faith.”
PSUV leader Jorge Rodriguez holds up an image of Luis Manuel Diaz who was killed in  undetermined circumstances, Caracas, Venezuela, Nov. 26, 2015. | Photo: AVN
The unstated implication, from the U.S. and Santos alike, is that the killing of Diazhas something to do with Venezuela’s ruling leftist government, which has noted that it would have little to gain from making a martyr of a minor opposition figure.
Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro opened a speech at a rally on Friday by reaffirm-ing his government’s commitment to investigate the murder.
ANALYSIS: What the Media Won't Admit About the Venezuelan Opposition Death
That commitment stands in contrast to Colombia, at least according to human rights   organizations.
“In Colombia, nominally Latin America's oldest democracy, the rule of law continues  to be weak and impunity reigns,” states Amnesty International. Indeed, “A culture of impunity, in which human rights abuses like displacement, targeting killings, and    disappearances remain unpunished, has existed in Colombia for decades. Impunity, more than any other factor, has been responsible for prolonging the human rights crisis.”
While Santos’ concern for Venezuela’s democracy is noted, it would seem he has some  work to do in his own country.
​WATCH: Venezuela: UNASUR Calls for Probe Into Politician's Murder

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