The Colombian government on Wednesday released an official statement advising its citizens not to travel to Venezuela, warning of the “risks” involved in entering the neighboring country, reported Colombian media.
In a statement released by the country’s Foreign Ministry, citizens are advised against going to Venezuela “as a result of the recent situations that have affected compatriots in the country.”
“The government sees with concern the cases of homicides of Colombians which have not yet been sufficiently clarified, and the cases of arrests in which there is absence of full evidence and due guarantees in the light of international norms and standards,” the statement reads.
The press release was issued following Venezuela’s arrest of eight Colombians accused of espionage, whom President Alvaro Uribe has personally defended, saying that they were not spies but “tourists.”
According to BBC World, the travel warning was met with mixed reactions from Colombian officials. Liberal Party presidential candidate Rafael Pardo accused the Foreign Ministry of not knowing the border region between Colombia and Venezuela, pointing out that each day 100,000 people move between the two countries in the frontier zones alone.
Political party Cambio Radical’s presidential candidate, German Vargas Lleras, supported the decision, saying that Colombians are not guaranteed safety if they travel to Venezuela.
This follows news on Wednesday that Colombia’s Foreign Minister, Jaime Bermudez, ordered embassy and consulate workers in Venezuela not to participate in celebrations of the socialist country’s bicentennial anniversary of its independence, due to the strained diplomatic relations between the two nations.
Tensions between the neighboring countries have escalated in recent weeks due to several reported cases of Colombian citizens being targeted by Venezuelan authorities.
President Uribe said of the arrests, “We can not allow Colombians to be persecuted for their nationality.”