Venezuela’s authorities released another photo of opposition leader Juan Guaido with an alleged drug trafficker on Thursday as tensions boil over on Colombia’s side of the border.
One of disputed President Nicolas Maduro’s closest allies, deputy Diosdado Cabello, claimed the man apparently driving Guaido from the border to a delegation of Colombian officials was “Los Rastrojos” leader “El Patron Pobre.”
Like the previously released images, the photo seems to be taken on February 22, the day Guaido crossed the border to lead a US-backed operation to force aid trucks into Venezuela.
- February 2 – US National Security Adviser John Bolton announces that “answering the call of President Guaido, the US is mobilizing & transporting humanitarian aid for the people of Venezuela.”
- February 5 – Colombia’s Foreign Minister Carlos Holmes Trujillo travels to Washington to meet with Defense Secretary Mike Pompeo, National Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen, Bolton and OAS Secretary General Luis Almagro.
- February 8 – US military aircraft deliver “humanitarian aid” to Cucuta. US Ambassador Kevin Whitaker travels to the border to join Venezuelan opposition representative Lester Toledo in a joint press conference attended by more than 150 journalists.
- February 18 – US President Donald Trump holds a media event in Miami to reiterate his support for Guaido.
- February 20 – US ambassador Kevin Whitaker meets with the representative of Venezuelan opposition in Bogota. On the same day, Guaido’s trip to Cucuta is coordinated with his personal assistant, Roberto Marrero, according to Cucuta councilman Juan Felipe Corzo, who received the opposition candidate.
- February 21 – US Vice-President Mike Pence surprisingly announces he will visit Colombia on the 25th. Guaido announces that the “humanitarian aid” operation will take place on February 23 and leaves Caracas.
- February 22, 8AM – media report Guaido arrived in San Cristobal, a city some 25 kilometers from the border.
- February 22, time unknown – Ringleaders of Los Rastrojos drive Guaido from the border 55 north of San Cristobal to Agua Clara where bodyguards and the helicopter of President Ivan Duque are waiting for him.
- February 22, 17PM – Guaido arrives in Cucuta and meets with Duque.
- February 23 – Guaido leads the failed operation to force “humanitarian aid” across the border. The operation left more than 280 people injured, according to Colombian authorities. In response, Maduro breaks all diplomatic ties with Colombia and the US.
- February 25 – US Vice President Mike Pence meets with Guaido and Duque in Bogota.
Border region terrorized by massacres and threats
NGO Progresar, whose director revealed the initial evidence that the February operation was coordinated with both the Rastrojos and President Ivan Duque, did also not confirm the man’s identity.
Progresar director Wilfredo Cañizares did reveal that since the scandal unfolded last week two massacres have been committed in Agua Clara, the village where Guaido was picked up by Duque’s helicopter.
The first massacre cost the lives of the parents of one of the narcos who took part in the February operation, authorities confirmed.
The second massacre was due to fighting that has broken out between the EPL, a rival drug trafficking group, and the Rastrojos, according to Cañizares.
To further increase the terror in the border region, residents of Agua Clara received a threat from far-right group “Aguilas Negras” that “we are carrying out a cleansing” and no Venezuelans would be permitted in the area.
Bogota and Washington go mute
While Caracas is trying to amplify the scandal that triggered criminal investigations into Guaido, Bogota and Washington DC have remained quiet about the narcos’ cooperation in the US-sponsored operation.
Colombian President Ivan Duque has refused to acknowledge the existence of the photos and Foreign Minister Carlos Holmes Trujillo, who took part in the operation, has remained entirely quiet.
State Department spokesperson Morgan Ortagus said Tuesday that her government “the United States continues to support Juan Guaido, the President of the National Assembly and the legitimate Interim President of Venezuela,” but made no reference to the Rastrojos incident.
Incoming ambassador Philip Goldberg, who arrived last week, mentioned only Colombian issues in his introduction video to the Colombian people.