Venezuela President Nicolas Maduro on Sunday said he will step up security operations on the border to curb “those horrible and terrifying crimes coming to us from Colombia.”
Speaking at a military ceremony, the leftist Maduro said that “we must revise” the security situation at the border “and introduce corrective measures to strengthen the intelligence and counterintelligence capacity, and the actions of the special forces along the entire border with Colombia.”
The Venezuelan head of state caused both a humanitarian and a diplomatic crisis in August when, following the killing of three soldiers, ordering the closure of the main border crossing and the expulsion of 1,500 Colombians.
The unilateral action spurred another 20,000 Colombians living in Venezuela to flee the country out of fear for persecution.
In spite of the rejection of both the Colombian government and human rights organizations, Maduro later expanded the border closings, saying he could keep the border closed “indefinitely.”
Before reopening the border, Maduro said Sunday he seeks the creation of a special forces unit to curb drug trafficking, “which is directed by the [US counter-narcotics agency] DEA itself in the region.”
Contradicting Maduro, analysts have asserted that corruption within Venezuela’s armed forces and increased counter-narcotics efforts in the Pacific Ocean and the Caribbean Sea have made Venezuela an increasingly interesting route for international drug trafficking organizations in charge of trafficking Colombian cocaine to the United States and Europe.
Colombia’s neighbor to the east saw an increase in political tensions leading up to the December 6 National Assembly elections that were convincingly lost by Maduro.
The Venezuelan president has been fiercely criticized for hyper-inflation, increased criminal violence in the cities and border region, and the scarcity of basic food products. Maduro has long insisted that these problems are caused by Colombian smugglers, drug traffickers and paramilitary groups.