Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro announced that new border closures will take place between Venezuela and Colombia, in Zone 2 of Tachira state, which includes the municipalities of Ayacucho, Garcia de Hevia, Lobatera, and Panamericano. The closure will be implimented as of 5 a.m. on Saturday morning.
As an additional measure to resolve the border crisis and help address media manipulations of the dispute, Maduro called for the creation a South American Truth Commission.
“I am going to propose that we establish a South American Truth Commission to come here and see the situation of the Venezuelan-Colombian border and the situation of the paramilitaries,“ said Maduro.
Maduro wants the commission to address the growing paramilitary and smuggling problems along the border in order to help resolve the border dispute.
The Venezuelan president also said that he was open to meeting with Colombian President Manuel Santos.
“When he wants,” said Maduro. “Him and I alone.”
Maduro made his announcements in front of the Venezuelan presidential palace Miraflores at the culmination of a massive march that wound through the streets of Caracas on Friday, titled the Great Patriotic March for Peace. Venezuela President Nicolas Maduro thanked the Venezuelan people for supporting the recent measures against paramilitarism, acknowledging the hard work of the Bolivarian Armed Forces to defend the territory.
Crowds of Venezuelans have rallied in support of the government's crackdown on cross-border crime – read more. | Photo AVNMaduro said that the people of Colombia have been victims of a war that has seemed endless since April 9, 1948, when Colombian presidential candidate Jorge Eliecer Gaitan was assasinated.
“The people of Colombia know it well,” said Maduro. “Sixty-five years of war. Thousands and thousands of victims, deaths, disappeared, tortured, peasants, workers, students ... Venezuela has suffered for six decades of war in Colombia."
El Pueblo de Venezuela y Colombia en la Calle dicen en una sola voz no al paramilitarismo,queremos Paz...Paz...Paz... pic.twitter.com/twfhf4Yjct— Nicolás Maduro (@NicolasMaduro) agosto 28, 2015
“The people of Venezuela and Colombia are in the streets, speaking with one voice, saying no to paramilitarism, we want peace, peace, peace.”
Maduro criticized the opposition Venezuela coalition MUD for standing in solidarity with Uribe, and denounced the ongoing smuggling and paramilitary presence on the border.
“I am not going to open this border,” said Maduro, highlighting that since closing the border they have been able to get the Venezuelan gasoline situation and the under control. “There hasn’t been a homicide or a kidnapping in a week,” he said.
The rally was called by the PSUV’s party leader Jorge Rodriguez, also the mayor of the Libertador municipality in Caracas, who said the march aimed to “defend the rights of 28 million Venezuelans, and the five million Colombians that live in our country.”
“The revolutionary governments (of Venezuela) have been extremely flexible with the Colombian people,” he told supporters in Caracas.
He said Venezuela and Colombia must work together to end smuggling.
In August, Venezuelan authorities launched Operation of Liberation and Protection of the People, which looks to crack down on smuggling of goods and paramilitaries, particularly along Venezuela’s border with Colombia.
“Venezuela has been victim of a planned invasion of paramilitaries, which have been sent to suffocate our peace,” Maduro added. “We have denounced this at every level and we will continue to denounce it.”
Maduro has warned as many as 30 paramilitary groups are operating in Venezuela, and has vowed to take a hard line on armed groups.