Hugo Chavez’ opposing candidate for the Venezuelan presidency has expressed concern of danger from illegally armed Colombian groups at border polling centers during upcoming elections, newswire AP reported Wednesday.
Henrique Capriles will be running for the Venezuelan presidency October 7th and his campaign manager Leopoldo Lopez said that 77 voting centers have been identified where Colombian guerrillas or paramilitary groups were operating nearby, as well as armed pro-Chavez Venezuelan organizations.
Neither the National Electoral Council nor officials in president Hugo Chavez’ government responded to the claims by Capriles’ campaign manager, reported AP.
According to Lopez, Colombian FARC and ELN guerrillas operate in the western border states of Apure, Tachira and Zulia, while the Venezuelan armed group the Bolivarian Liberation Front is also believed to operate in the same areas.
Lopez said that in the last election in a polling station of the town Elorza, every single one of the 300 voters elected pro-government, which the campaign manager suggested was due to the presence of armed FARC guerrillas who are well-known Chavez supporters.
In August the Venezuelan government announced that it was strengthening security at its border with Colombia with at least 3,500 soldiers in order to fight crime and drug-trafficking and to counteract the influence of the armed groups.
Approximately 2,000 soldiers were moved to specifically protect Venezuela’s 1,379-mile border with Colombia, where there are allegedly organizations linked to drugs, especially cocaine, as well as operating guerrilla, paramilitary, and kidnapping groups.
Capriles travels to Colombia Wednesday to meet with Santos to review Colombia-Venezuela bilateral relations.