Puebla, Mexico, February 9, 2018 (venezuelanalysis.com) – Colombia and Brazil announced plans this week to expand troop deployments on their borders with Venezuela.
On Thursday, Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos said he had ordered the deployment of 3000 additional security personnel to the Venezuelan border. This figure included 2120 more soldiers. He claimed the reason behind such moves was to control problems created by Venezuelan migrants.
His decision comes as US officials from their Southern Command military headquarters were visiting Colombia to "discuss security cooperation" and "get first hand look at Colombia's peace-building and security efforts".
SOUTHCOM CDR @ADMKurtWTidd in #Colombia to discuss security cooperation w/ top leaders and get first-hand look at Colombia's peace-building and security efforts. @USEmbassyBogota pic.twitter.com/DJOkcqzrme
— US Southern Command (@southcomwatch) February 9, 2018
“Colombia has never before experienced a situation like this," Santos said while visiting the border town of Cucuta.
Venezuela is currently facing its worst economic downturn in decades, which has caused significant migration out of the country, something Santos blamed on Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro. The Colombian leader called for his country to support Venezuelan migrants.
“We must also be generous with Venezuela in these times of difficulty,” he said, before announcing new restrictions on Venezuelan migrants.
Among the new restrictions was the suspension of a daily visitor card for Venezuelans.
“Venezuela was very generous with Colombia when Colombians sought for a better life in Venezuela,” Santos said, describing how millions of Colombians fleeing the civil war and paramilitary violence “were received with open arms” over the decades by Venezuela.
Similar border measures have also been introduced by Brazil, which has announced plans to double its border patrols on the Venezuelan frontier.
Brazilian authorities have also said they plan to relocate Venezuelan migrants away from border towns, and disperse them over Brazil’s interior.
"We are here to bring federal government help and strengthen the border" stated Brazilian Defence Minister Raul Jungmann.
The new measures come at a time of increased tension between Venezuela’s left-wing government, and the right-wing governments in Colombia and Brazil.
On Wednesday, Venezuelan Foreign Minister Jorge Arreaza accused Santos of being “submissive” to the United States. Arreaza blamed the US with its Latin American allies for generating “pain, wars, displaced communities, refugees, extreme poverty, paramilitarism, contraband, drug production, drug trafficking, (and) narcopolitics”.
The comments were made in response to those made by Santos a day earlier, in which he said the Lima Group of nations- a makeshift collation of rightist governments- would not recognise the results of Venezuela’s upcoming presidential elections. The Lima Group includes both Colombia and Brazil, along with several other countries such as Argentina, Canada and Mexico.
Venezuelan officials have accused these countries of plotting to undermine the vote.
Under the orders of US imperialism, some countries’ … are going to say they will not recognise the [elections],” exclaimed Arreaza.
“I have no doubt, Nicolas Maduro will again be the president of the [Venezuelan] Republic,” he said.