Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro said Thursday that a “psychological operation” to destabilize his government is being carried out from Colombia, further increasing tensions spurred by a visit of Venezuela’s opposition leader to Colombia.
In a “warning” speech to members of the Venezuelan Army, Maduro stated that a “psychological operation from [the Colombian capital of] Bogota” is seeking to “weaken the democracy of Venezuela.”
The accusations follow a visit to Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos and members of Colombia’s Congress in Bogota by Venezuelan opposition leader Henrique Capriles, who is touring Latin America in search of support of a recount of votes from last month’s presidential election he claims were won by Maduro through fraud.
“From abroad,” Maduro said, “they are hiring assassins to kill the soldiers of the Secure Nation mission,” a state entity created earlier this month to combat skyrocketing crime rates in the country.
Maduro’s accusations confirm thos of his foreign minister, Elia Jaua, who on Wednesday claimed that “it is confirmed that from Bogota they are heading a conspiratorial process against Venezuela.”
“It is a shame that from the Colombian capital conspiratorial processes are being nurtured,” said the minister.
Meanwhile in Colombia, President Juan Manuel Santos and Foreign Minister Maria Angela Holguin remained quiet, consistent with statements made by the minister on Wednesday that her government will contact that of Venezuela directly “and without microphones” to solve bilateral issues.
“In order to stay away from the microphone diplomacy that is so harmful, we will discuss this issue directly with the Venezuelan government,” Minister Maria Angela Holguin was quoted as saying by Colombian press.
Venezuela has not spoken this harshly about its neighbor since Santos took office in August 2010 and made the improvement of the relationship between the two countries a top priority. Before Santos assumed power, Venezuela had frozen relations over accusations by Colombia’s former President Alvaro Uribe, who accused the government of late President Hugo Chavez of aiding the FARC.