The Governments of Colombia and Venezuela clashed again on Thursday following the Venezuelan bombing of two footbridges connecting the two countries.
In a statement, Colombia’s Foreign Ministry announced it will denounce the destruction of the bridges before the United Nations and the Organization of American States, claiming “this is a unilateral act of aggresion against the civilian population and the border communities.”
Venezuela’s vice-President, Ramon Carrizales, told Colombian radiostation Caracol that the bridges were made illegally and used for drug trafficking. “It is incorrect to say that border bridges were destroyed, because they are illegal passways … any improvized crossing or path that is used to illegally enter or leave a country without complying to the agreements in place are considered illegal,” the official said.
On Friday, Colombia’s Defense Minister, Gabriel Silva Lujan, called the destruction of the border bridges a provocation of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, but stressed Colombia will not tolerate any “agression against the civilian population or Colombian territory.”
“The duty of the Defense Minister is to avoid war and provocations at any cost … Because of this we will not get involved in a war of words or insults … What we can not accept is an act of agression against civilians or against the homeland. For that we are prepared.”
Colombia and Venezuela have strain diplomatic relations for months as Venezuela fiercely objects a Colombian agreement with the U.S. that allows the Americans to use military bases and civilian airports for counternarcotics and counterterrorism missions.
The border region has long been a reason for tensions between the countries as Venezuela accuses Colombia of allowing right wing paramilitary fighters to enter Venezuelan territory, while Colombia says the border is often crossed by left-wing guerrillas seeking refuge in the neighbor country.