Colombian Foreign Minister Complains of ''Excessive'' Search at Miami Airport

Foreign Minister Carolina Barco said she had to remove her shoes and belt during the security check.


BOGOTA, Colombia (AP) -- Colombia's foreign minister said Friday she was subjected to an ''excessive'' search at Miami airport and has complained about the incident to the U.S. ambassador. Foreign Minister Carolina Barco said she had to remove her shoes and belt during the security check.

Barco refused to specify in an interview on RCN radio whether she had to submit to a body search, saying: ''I don't want to enter into those details.''

Barco said she asked U.S. Ambassador William Wood in a lettter for his help in coordinating ''more cordial and respectful searches'' for those entering the United States. When called for comment, the U.S. Embassy had no immediate reaction. But Barco said the embassy has assured her the case would be investigated.

Barco said she was traveling on a recent Sunday to a meeting in Washington of the Organization of American States when she encountered the rigorous search at Miami's airport. She told RCN she showed her Colombian diplomatic passport and identified herself as the foreign minister, but that it had no effect on the security officials who searched her.

''They did not respect my condition as the representative of a country,'' she said.

Many Colombians traveling abroad believe they are subjected to more rigorous searches at international borders. Colombia is the world's biggest producer of cocaine. Some 17,000 Colombians are jailed abroad, most of them on charges related to drug trafficking.

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