Venezuela sends additional 3,000 troops to Colombian border

Venezuela deploys more troops to Colombian border to tackle illegal trading, migration and halt criminals

Photo by: Reuters
Photo by: Reuters

People rest while they wait to try to cross into Colombia close to the border at Paraguachon in the state of Zulia

Updated Sep 10, 2015

Venezuela sent another 3,000 troops to its neighbour part of Colombian border, around 2,219-kilometre long, where is hotspot of crime crackdown to halt illegal trafficking.

Recently in August Venezuela has sent 1,500 troops, amounting to over 5,000 troops deployed to Colombian border.

Colombians flee illegally from their homeland to Venezuela which led to accusations of rights abuses.

Sending troops to the border has raised diplomatic crisis between Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro’s socialist administration and Colombian centre-right President Juan Manuel Santos government.

President Maduro said that the border would be closed for 72 hours.

According to critics, Maduro relates to conservative flank ahead of parliamentary elections that will take place in December since governing Socialist Party votes recently have been falling down according to the latest opinion polls.

Venezuelan government aims to tackle gangs and illegal widespread trafficking on the border that hits its crumbling economy.

The measures were taken after an incident in which three Venezuelan soldiers were wounded by a Colombian paramilitary acting on behalf of smugglers.

Venezuelan National Assembly President Diosdado Cabello said previously “40,000 cars would drive into Colombia every day bringing Venezuelan food and gasoline[…] and long lines [in Tachira] for people to have access to food items that are already difficult to get due to the current economic situation…,” laying stress on smuggling mafias and paramilitary groups.

Meanwhile, a Venezuelan governor announced that security forces killed presumed two of Colombian paramilitaries on Tuesday.

Venezuela closed Colombian border in 2014. According to UN refugee agency, over 1,000 Colombian citizens have already been deported as more than 15,000 Colombians have fled.

The two governments have withdrawn their ambassadors “for consultations.”

Maduro closed the Paraguachon crossing in Zulia State -which is one of 23 Venezuelan states- to the north late on Monday and last month also closed main frontier points in Tachira state.

Maduro said at a cabinet meeting that the progress will maintain against “crime, criminals, paramilitaries and smuggler” but indigenous inhabitants like Wayuu and Guajiro would be exempt from measures.

In some places of Colombians’ houses were marked with letter “D” which stands for demolition.

Homes were marked for demolition by spray painting the letter "D" on to their walls

"Marking houses to later demolish them is totally unacceptable and reminds one of bitter episodes in history which cannot be allowed to recur," said Colombian Santos, the BBC reports.

Venezuelan population is around 30 million and 5.6 million is Colombians who they had fled war and economic hardship in past decades.


TRTWorld and agencies