A Venezuelan national, allegedly tied to Colombian paramilitaries, was arrested Tuesday for the assassination of two officers of the Venezuelan Civil Guard. The border between the two countries remains closed, affecting the many Colombians who cross it daily.
Venezuelan vice president Ramon Carrizalez said his government believes that the two officers were murdered by members of the Colombian paramilitary “seeking to position themselves in this region of the country, as part of a destabilization plan that we have been reporting for some time,” Cron.com reported Tuesday.
The head of the Civil Guard Franklin Marquez said that it is possible that the attackers sought revenge after they were stopped from smuggling petrol and food across the border.
Following the assassinations, Venezuelan authorities closed the northern part of the border with Colombia. The two counrties’ main border check point, near the Colombian city of Cucuta, is closed too.
A mass of Colombians who work in Venezuela crossed the border at unofficial crossings. Some who returned back to Colombia via the same route were forced to leave their vehicles in Venezuela and reported mistreatment by members of the Venezuelan National Guard, according to Caracol Radio.
The border is closed indefinitely at both official points as well as unofficial crossings, according to local media.
Motor bike taxis and bus and taxi drivers have been affected by the border closing as there is no one for them to transport.
Caracol Radio reported that in the DAS offices where 600 passports are usually stamped daily, only 15 tourists have been processed.
Relations between Colombia and Venezuela remain tense.
Leftist Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez recently made accusations that Colombian intelligence officials are committing espionage in Venezuela and conspiring against the government.
Diplomatic relations between Colombia and Venezuela were frozen by Chavez in July due to an agreement between Bogota and Washington regarding the use of seven Colombian military bases by U.S. troops. The pact is controversial as neighboring countries Venezuela and Ecuador consider an increase of U.S. military influence in the region a threat to their countries’ sovereignty.