Venezuela’s President Nicolas Maduro said Monday he would main an orange alert and extra troops at Colombia’s border, claiming President Ivan Duque seeks to “bring war to Venezuela.”
During a televised meeting with military commanders, Maduro said “the orange alert and the deployment of our Armed Force in the full exercise of our sovereignty is maintained.”
Colombian media have reported that some 150,000 troops, supported by missile systems, have been carrying out military exercises near the Venezuelan border since September 10.
Maduro said that he made his decision following “a series of recommendations” to permanently maintain the “alert and vigilance mechanisms in the face of the external threats coming from Colombia.”
The Venezuelan president, who is facing extreme pressure from both the opposition and foreign nations, ordered the military exercises after evidence emerged indicating that opposition leader Juan Guaido received assistance from Colombian drug trafficking group “Los Rastrojos.”
Images of Guaido and members of the narcos confirmed claims by locals who have said that the Rastrojos helped Guaido cross the border to take part in a failed US-sponsored operation to force aid trucks into Venezuela in February.
Tensions have been building in Venezuela ever since Maduro was re-elected in elections that were not recognized by dozens of countries in Latin America and Europe amid widespread fraud claims.
The situation escalated after Guaido declared himself interim-president later than month and received the support of approximately 50 countries.
Talks between the two rivals to negotiate a way out of the country’s humanitarian and institutional crises failed last month.
Colombia has not sent troops to the border in an attempt to avoid further escalating the military tensions.
Both countries accuse each other of harboring “terrorists” that seek to overthrow their governments.