Colombia President Juan Manuel Santos will visit the northeastern province of La Guajira to assess the situation after Venezuela President Nicolas Maduro extended border closures to the region last week.
On August 19, Maduro ordered the border closure between the Colombian province of Norte de Santander and the Venezuela state of Tachira after a firefight between contraband smugglers left three Venezuelan military personnel wounded.
Last week, Maduro extended the border closures to La Guajira, in an effort to combat “Colombian paramilitaries” smuggling operations between the two brother countries.
La Guajira, which is on the northern border between Colombia and Venezuela, is dependent on trade between the two countries. Specifically, businesses and citizens rely on cheaper gasoline coming from Venezuela.
In a statement Monday, La Guajira governor Jose Maria Ballesteros, asked President Santos to extend the same assistance to his province that had been given to Norte de Santander, the first Colombian region affected by Venezuela’s border closures.
Specifically, Governor Ballesteros asked the government to subsidized gasoline in the region. La Guajira is served by the indigenous nation of Wayuu, who receive a special dispensation from the Colombian and Venezuelan governments to supply gas to 135 gas stations in the Colombian province.
“There is a great Wayuu nation because this is an area of indigenous people. In a speech Nicolas Maduro said there would be an exception for them, but we know this is not the case because he is not giving access to anyone on the border.”
“What we want are measures of impact. We cannot continue to rely on Venezuelan oil and the Venezuelan trade. We need to give us the same conditions that exist in Norte de Santander, ” he added.
Santos’ visit will take place after the Colombian military accused Venezuelan ‘war planes’ of violating Colombian airspace of the weekend. The planes allegedly flew over Colombian Army units stationed in La Flor.
According to the Colombian Ministry of Defense aircraft initially entered within 2.9 kilometers of the Colombian airspace, flying over the area of Majayura, and then leaving quickly returning to Venezuelan airspace.
Venezuelan Foreign Secretary Delcy Rodriguez denied the incursion, claiming it was an “invention to prevent a presidential meeting.”
On Saturday, Rodriguez met with her Colombian counterpart, Maria Holguin to discuss the situation and prepare a meeting between the presidents of the two countries.