Caracas, September 14, 2015 (venezuelanalysis.com)- The Venezuelan government has denied a claim made by its Colombian counterpart alleging a violation of its airspace by two Venezuelan military aircraft on Saturday.
According to a Colombian Defense Ministry statement, two unspecified Venezuelan military aircraft allegedly entered the Colombian municipality of Maicao across the border from the Venezuelan province of Guajira on Saturday afternoon.
The Colombian statement comes in the midst of bilateral talks between the neighboring countries’ foreign ministers seeking a solution to an escalating border crisis that has seen Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro close sections of the 1,400 mile frontier in response to a paramilitary attack on three Venezuelan soldiers in mid-August.
Venezuelan Foreign Minister Delcy Rodriguez responded several hours later from Quito, rebuffing the Colombian government’s claims, which she says are aimed at derailing a proposed meeting between the two countries’ heads of states intended to resolve the tense border standoff.
“There is no evidence of an alleged violation of our neighboring country’s airspace, beyond an invention to thwart a presidential meeting,” she stated via Twitter.
While in Quito, Rodriguez also reiterated her government’s commitment to going ahead with a special presidential meeting between the conflicted nations, as advocated by regional bodies such as UNASUR and the CELAC.
“President Nicolas Maduro reaffirms his proposal of an immediate meeting to deal with the grave humanitarian exodus from Colombia as well as cross-border crimes,” she declared on her Twitter account.
Meanwhile, Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos has declared that his government will issue a formal complaint over the alleged airspace violation this Monday.
Last month, Venezuela deported 1000 undocumented Colombians residing in the border zone as part of a crackdown on paramilitarism and cross-border smuggling.
According to UN estimates, a further 18,000 Colombian residents in Venezuela have returned to their country of origin in recent weeks, driven by alleged fears of deportation as well as hopes of illicitly cashing in on Colombian government benefits to deportees.
Despite rumors of anti-Colombian persecution circulated by international corporate media and rightwing governments, the United Nations has confirmed that none of the 173,600 Colombians with legal refugee status in Venezuela were among the deported. A further five million Colombians reside legally in the country of 30 million.