Colombia President Juan Manuel Santos announced that he will take an ongoing border crisis with Venezuela to the United Nations after more than 10,000 Colombians were displaced from the neighboring country.
Colombia’s ambassador at the Organization of American States (OAS) failed to gather the international political support necessary to call a meeting of foreign ministers to address Venezuela’s deportation of 1,000 Colombians and the displacement of 9,000 others.
Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro has claimed his socialist government is threatened by right-wing Colombian paramilitary forces and murder plots, and simply expelled illegal migrants while arresting alleged paramilitaries.
While Santos has been trying to have his Venezuelan counterpart to address the crisis situation, the latter left for a 10-day visit to Asia with his foreign minister and has since accused Colombian authorities of being implicated in a plot to have him killed.
A new, strident approach from Santos
Santos will now take the issue of the border crisis to the secretary general of United Nations, as well as its High Commission of Human Rights, and the International Organization of Migration, he said on National television Tuesday evening.
In the televised address, was Santos was strident, striking the refrain that Venezuela respect the dignity of Colombians expelled from the neighbor country.
Santos announced that the Prosecutor General is also considering filing a complaint with the International Criminal Court (ICC) for the “forcible transfer of population of Colombians, who were objects of acts in violation of international law.”
Colombians who had lived in Venezuela as refugees from the internal armed conflict in their home country were among those deported.
This announcement occurs one day after Colombia suffered a procedural defeat at the Organization of American States, falling one vote short of the necessary 18 to bring the issue to that body. The President explained away this set back as the votes were based more on, “ideology and financial interests than humanitarian reasons.”
“So absurd, so outside of reality”
The Santos administration had previously requested an emergency meeting at UNASUR for September 3, which has been suspended because of Maduro’s absence. Santos announced that they would now forgo that request as it moves forward with the UN.
While Santos spoke, Venezuela President Nicolas Maduro spoke from China – where he is seeking much needed economic aid – saying that he would like to establish a direct dialogue with President Santos. Maduro reaffirmed his position that Colombia must find a way to intervene on “all the extraction smuggling that is bleeding the economic system in Venezuela,” and has “hit the supply.”
According to Maduro, smugglers are acquiring foodstuffs and vehicle parts to sell in Colombia at higher prices. Venezuela is struggling with shortages and a record level of inflation.
Santos mocked the assertion of the Venezuelan President as “absurd” and “outside of reality.”
“Who can blame a poor old deported woman for the tremendous commodity shortages suffered by the Venezuelan people? Who can blame the children being expelled for the high exchange rate or inflation that has soared up? And who can even consider that from Bogota, ‘with the consent and a blind eye’ that my government is planning to assassinate President Maduro?”