Colombia’s Interior minister on Monday stated that there is “no evidence” that the US government and paramilitaries from Colombia have incited violence in Venezuela.
Venezuela’s President Nicolas Maduro has accused the United States, Colombia’s extreme right, former President Alvaro Uribe and illegal paramilitary groups of orchestrating a plan to encourage social unrest in order to over throw the government.
Maduro made these claims last week when he said that authorities are “on maximum alert” over alleged US-approved plans to send paramilitary deaths squads from Colombia to carry out violent attacks in the joint border region.
“They want to infiltrate armed groups trained by Colombian paramilitaries because from the north has come the order to, in whichever way, destroy the homeland of [Simon] Bolivar,” the general who liberated Colombia and Venezuela from Spanish rule in the 19th century, Maduro said.
According to Maduro, the paramilitary force aims to “bring violence” to the border states of Zulia, Tachira and Apure
When refuting these claims, the Interior Minister Juan Fernando Cristo recalled the “friendly” relations that the Santos government currently has with Venezuela, even highlighting the offer the Colombian president made this week to “mediate between the government and the opposition to find a peaceful solution to the difficult situation in Venezuela.”
Since 2014, when the protests began in Venezuela, mediation has been delegated to the foreign ministries of Brazil, Colombia and Ecuador, as representatives of the Union of South American Nations (UNASUR).
“We hope that Venezuela can finally overcome these difficult circumstances by means of dialogue,” said Cristo, for whom good relations with Caracas are further demonstrated by the dedication to “ensuring border security.”
In recent days the international community expressed concern over the arrest of opposition mayor of the metropolitan area of Caracas, Antonio Ledezma, who stands accused of involvement in a plot to destabilize the government of Maduro.
While Colombia’s conservative opposition has consistently expressed support for the Venezuelan opposition and has denounced human rights violations and alleged arbitrary detentions of opposition activists, President Juan Manuel Santos has tried to maintain quiet.
Former President Alvaro Uribe’s opposition to the government Chavez spurred the latter to shut down trade between the country, costing the Colombian treasury billions of dollars per year.
The trade stop caused major economic problems for the border communities of both countries.
However, after Maduro began restricting cross-border travel and trade over contraband allegations, and the economic and political situation in the neighboring country worsened, Bogota began raising concerns about human rights violations and the arrest of opposition politicians in Venezuela.