Venezuela has rejected accusations by Colombia's President Juan Manuel Santos that the May 20 presidential elections will be fraudulent, branding the allegations "ridiculous."
Santos said on Thursday that he had been alerted by "reliable intelligence sources" that over the past year Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro had paid Colombians to obtain Venezuelan identification cards in order to boost his results.
Venezuela's communications minister, Jorge Rodriguez, told a press conference: "(Santos) always says he was warned by intelligence sources. Every time that Mr. Santos is 'outraged'... it's to see if anyone's paying attention, because otherwise no one cares."
During a televised state broadcast, Attorney General Tarek William Saab denounced the allegations, saying Santos "not only wants to govern Colombia, but also the worst of Venezuela."
Santos had also denounced the alleged seizure by Maduro's government of 25,000 boxes of food intended for export to a Venezuelan state program, Local Supply and Production Committees (CLAP), which he said would be used to buy votes from desperate Venezuelans.
Santos refused to reveal additional details or his sources, but claimed he had evidence of possible crimes such as "corruption, money laundering, and illicit enrichment," and would not recognize the results of the elections.
"I have given instructions to our Public Force to redouble border controls to avoid the illegal removal of voters as much as possible," Santos said Thursday.
Santos seemed to disregard his own country's history of electoral fraud, despite the number of electoral observers who have complained about security flaws in Colombia's electronic vote-counting system and the nation's failure to remedy the issue.
During Colombia's 2014 legislative elections, over 250,000 votes were deleted. In March of this year, investigators from Fundacion Paz y Reconciliacion said there was sufficient evidence to prove the existence in Colombia of a major million-dollar corruption network which makes a profit by selling votes to candidates.