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Venezuela will request emergency assistance from the UN System to deactivate minefields deployed by irregular armed groups infiltrating Venezuelan territory from Colombia in the Southwestern state of Apure, president Nicolas Maduro announced Sunday on national TV.
Maduro made the announcement after delivering a report on the Covid19 situation in the country. He said he instructed foreign minister Jorge Arreaza to contact UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres for the purpose.
Venezuela’s National Boliviarian Army has been conducting operations on the border zone since unidentified armed units attacked National Guard posts, rural villages and public buildings in March, terrorizing the local population.
Maduro warned that Venezuela has been subject to irregular attacks from Colombian paramilitaries on a permanent basis.
Mandatario nacional @NicolasMaduro llamó al pueblo de Venezuela a dar apoyo absoluto y total a nuestra gloriosa FANB
"Tolerancia cero con los grupos armados irregulares, narcotraficantes y terroristas de Colombia. ¡A Venezuela se le respeta!", manifestó pic.twitter.com/yQBsrxHQzx
“They intend to take over our Venezuelan territory and we are not going to allow them to do so, that is why we give our full support to the FANB (Bolivarian Armed Forces). Colombia surrendered the border to irregular armed groups, criminals", he said.
THE FANB has activated the “Bolivarian Shield”, an complex defensive scheme which combines all branches of the military along with people’s militias. The Shield has been designed to protect the country, especially the border with Colombia from "irregular, terrorist, drug trafficking and violent" armed groups, he said.
"Colombia abandoned its border more than 50 years ago", Maduro stressed. "Since the 80's, since the phenomenon of Pablo Escobar and then “Uribism” (for former Colombian president Alvaro Uribe), which is the expression of narco-paramilitarism in Colombia where the mafias and drug trafficking have normalized it, they have cornered the Colombian society and are trying to enter Venezuela and we will not allow them. These irregular groups, it is Colombia's war exported to the noble and peaceful territory of Venezuelan; we are going to liberate all this zone, all the territory of Apure", he added.
Colombia has endured over 60 years of internal wars. In 2016 the government of Juan Manuel Santos and the leftwing guerrillas of Colombia’s Revolutionary Armed Forces (FARC), reached a peace agreement brokered by Venezuela and Cuba, by which FARC became a legal political party.
Ever since, hundreds of former combatants and social leaders have been killed by paramilitary groups linked to both drug cartels and allegedly the military and security services. These groups are particularly active along the border, regularly infiltrating into Venezuelan territory, to blackmail land owners and peasants, and orchestrate the massive smuggling of fuel and goods to the Colombian side.
Current Colombian president Ivan Duque, a close ally of former president Uribe and the United States, has vowed to overthrow Venezuela’s constitutional government. Venezuela broke diplomatic relations with Colombia in 2019 after an open attempt by Duque to trigger an invasion from the border town of Cucuta, disguised as “humanitarian assistance”.
Maduro stressed that ”our land is for sowing, not for drug trafficking. Colombia does not support agricultural production, it only supports drugs, 92% of the drugs leave through the Pacific and the Colombian Caribbean (to the US). We are victims of paramilitarism and Colombian drug trafficking”.