Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro said Wednesday that he is considering militarizing a state that shares a border with Colombia in order to combat an alleged conspiracy by the mayor of the state’s capital city.
“If I have to declare a state of exception, special for [the state of] Tachira, I am ready to create it, and put in tanks, troops, planes–put in all of our military force,” said Maduro in a speech that was transmitted on most radio and television stations Wednesday afternoon.
The aggressive statement concerning the western border state of Tachira, was made due to the president’s belief that state capital mayor, Daniel Ceballos is conspiring against the government with many other players.
The Venezuelan head of state said that there exists a “fascist attack” that is supported by Ceballos, and that the mayor has been working in coordination with paramilitary groups and “criminal gangs in Colombia.”
“They want us to bring the violence of drug trafficking and paramilitaries here…it’s more like they already have brought it,” continued Maduro.
Venezuelan Governor of the Tachira state Jose Gregorio Vielma supported the president by saying around 120 people illegally entered Venezuela from Colombia to “infiltrate the opposition protests” reported Semana magazine.
Maduro reportedly then accused the Tachira protests of being “controlled by Colombian (Ex President) Alvaro Uribe and and the imprisoned fascist leader” the latter a reference to Leopoldo Lopez, the Venezuelan opposition leader who surrendered himself to national police earlier this week.
The speech only got more intense and accusatory as it continued, and the president asserted that Tachira might become similar to the Libyan city of Benghazi, where there was an uprising three years ago that led to civil war.
“They want to convert Tachira into the Benghazi of Venezuela and we are not going to allow that.”
It is unclear what exactly this would mean for worsening relations between Colombia and Venezuela; Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos said earlier this week that he has a vested interest in the ongoing problems in Venezuela as the two countries are inextricably linked.
“Everything that happens there, good or bad, affects Colombia,” said Colombia’s head of state, and surely a militarized border area could affect Venezuela’s neighbor tremendously.