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Richard Boulton: 23 years After the Kidnapping That Marked Venezuela

Ricardo Paulino


Who were the Boulton family?

The Boulton family has been widely known in the business sector of Venezuela since the beginning of the 19th century. Airlines, hotels, insurance companies, food industries, steel companies, ports, alcoholic beverages, a cement company, and real estate, among others, were part of the sectors of the companies created by them.

For Richard Boulton, the passion for flying was always present, in part motivated by the airline Avensa, founded by his father, Mr. Henry L. Boulton Nunez, who was his great mentor in the personal and business life of the young man born in Caracas.

In December 1998, he married Marena Bencomo, who was Miss Venezuela 1996 and first runner-up in Miss Universe 1997, in addition to being a lawyer by profession and a specialist in public relations. They shared several things in common, with traveling being the couple's favourite pastime.

How did the kidnapping happen?

On July 15, 2000, Richard Boulton was kidnapped on his farm in Tocuyito, in the central region of Venezuela. Around 15 kidnappers posed as police officers, pretending that some inmates had escaped from the prison near the farm. Boulton and his wife had just landed on the runway of their farm when this crime occurred. The captors took only Richard and landed in Colombia, specifically in the Department of Vichada. The flight covered approximately 1,600 km, marking the beginning of the businessman's two-year-long period of captivity.

It was the United Self-Defense Forces of Colombia (AUC), the paramilitary group that carried out the kidnapping of the businessman, and which was planned for more than 6 months, according to its leader, aka 'Carlos Castano'. Colombian and Venezuelan authorities were on Boulton's trail for two years, investigating the whereabouts of the Venezuelan businessman with information from other rebel groups operating in the Colombian jungle.

It was not until July 15, 2022, that the AUC decided to release Boulton through the International Committee of the International Red Cross in the rural area of ​​Puerto Gaitán, about 270km southeast of Bogotá. The Venezuelan media claimed that the Boulton family paid 10 million dollars to free Richard, whose version has never been confirmed by said family.

In the 23 years since his release, Richard Boulton has not only overcome the harrowing experience of his kidnapping but has also emerged as a resilient entrepreneur. Splitting his time between Caracas and the Dominican Republic, Boulton continues to channel his passion for flying into thriving business projects related to tourism. With two children by his side, he remains an active presence in the media, sharing his inspiring journey in interviews on radio and television programs.


Edited by: Jonathan Nwabenu

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