Venezuela Points Finger at Colombia for Drugs and Smuggling on Porous Border
Border dispute tensions continue to escalate between neighboring nations of Venezuela and Colombia after the two countries recently recalled their ambassadors.
Venezuela’s president Nicolas Maduro announced expansion of the partial closure of their shared border to four new frontier towns.
This kind of strained relations between two countries is not new. In fact, President Maduro closed part of the border last week after unidentified assailants attacked a Venezuelan anti-smuggling patrol that injured three soldiers and a civilian. The Venezuelan leader claimed that the attack was perpetrated by the right-wing paramilitaries from neighbouring Colombia.
According to news report, because of the border dispute, the Venezuelan government deported more than 1,000 Colombian migrants. This move aims to lessen and counter paramilitary activity, crime, smuggling, kidnapping and drug trafficking.
In addition, President Maduro announced that 3,000 troops will be deployed in the area to search for paramilitaries.
Rebels Lurking Around the Border?
According to news reports, the 2,200km border is known to be a haven for drugs, smugglers, and the notorious fighters from the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) and National Liberation Army (ELN).
President has been vocal in blaming the Colombian smuggling gangs for economic downfall in Venezuela where there is evident shortages of basic goods.
US ‘Concerned’ About Colombia-Venezuela Border Dispute
In a press statement in Washington DC, US Department Spokesperson John Kirby said the Department of State notes its continuing concern about the situation along the border between Venezuela and Colombia.
“The Department supports efforts by Colombia and Venezuela to resolve the dispute diplomatically.” – Mr. Kirby
In addition, the US welcomes the initiatives to address the situation in appropriate multilateral fora. And even, stressed that it is ready to work with both countries and other regional partners to find a peaceful solution.
US Stresses Protection For Migrants
As deportation of Colombian migrants from Venezuela continues to make headlines, the US also urged that special attention be paid to the worsening humanitarian situation along the frontier.
Mr. Kirby highlighted that the US respects the importance of secure borders and safe and orderly migration. However, the United State asserted that deportations should take place in accordance with international law, respecting the human rights of all involved, and in coordination with the receiving country.
In addition, Mr. Kirby underlined that refugees with recognized protection concerns should not be deported.
Venezuela on Drugs
The US claims Venezuela is among the world’s 22 “major drug producing or drug transit countries.” In addition, Venezuela is one of three nations to have “failed demonstrably” to meet counter-drug obligations in 2010.
However, Venezuela has countered these claims by asserting that it has a zero tolerance policy toward drug trafficking, capturing 17 drug kingpins wanted by Interpol, and deporting them to the U.S., Colombia, and the Netherlands.