World View: Colombia and Venezuela Withdraw Ambassadors over Border Dispute

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro delivers a speech at the National Assembly in Caracas on July 6, 2015. Maduro called his ambassador to Guyana, Reina Arratia, for consultations Monday, after reporting an alleged plan to create a conflict with the Caribbean countries following a border dispute. AFP PHOTO / FEDERICO PARRA …

This morning’s key headlines from

  • Colombia and Venezuela withdraw ambassadors over border dispute
  • European officials demand forced fingerprinting of migrants

Colombia and Venezuela withdraw ambassadors over border dispute

Venezuelan soldiers check ID cards of bus passengers near the Colombian border on Wednesday (AP)
Venezuelan soldiers check ID cards of bus passengers near the Colombian border on Wednesday (AP)

Venezuela and Colombia each recalled its ambassador to the other country on Thursday. This was the latest diplomatic action in a bitter border dispute between the two countries.

The situation was triggered by an attack two weeks ago, when unidentified gunmen left three Venezuelan border guards and one civilian injured. Venezuela’s president Nicolás Maduro quickly announced that Colombia was at fault — particularly paramilitary groups within Colombia linked to Colombia’s former president Álvaro Uribe.

Maduro then sent troops into the shantytowns on Venezuela’s side of the border, where Colombians have been living. Under Maduro’s orders, over 1,000 Colombian immigrants were deported with almost no notice given to collect belongings.

Colombians and Venezuelans are accustomed to crossing the border freely for shopping. Colombians cross into Venezuela to purchase gasoline and food that is subsidized by Maduro’s socialist government. Venezuelans cross into Colombia to purchase medicines and other goods unavailable in Venezuela because of disastrous shortages caused by price controls.

Apparently there is no firm evidence of Colombian government involvement in the attacks on the border guards, although it is common for armed Colombian groups to cross into Venezuela and purchase large quantities of price-controlled fuel and food, and then smuggle them back into Colombia to sell at much higher prices. Venezuela’s president Maduro and Colombia’s president Juan Manuel Santos Calderón have been on nationwide television in their respective countries, each accusing the other of causing the crisis.

Colombia and Venezuela are two of three countries (the third being Ecuador) that emerged from the victories of the indigenous population led by Simón Bolívar in the 1810s-1820s over the colonial powers from Spain. There have been numerous border disputes since then. The 1948-58 civil war known as La Violencia was a shared generational crisis war of the two countries.

Maduro routinely blames capitalist speculators or other countries, usually the United States, for any problem. This time the Colombian refugees in Venezuela have been picked as the scapegoat. AP and Bloomberg

European officials demand forced fingerprinting of migrants

As each week goes by, Europe’s migrant crisis seems to get even worse. Just on Saturday morning, around 100 inflatable boats reached the Greek island of Lesbos in the Aegean sea, carrying over 4,000 refugees. This is a factor of 4 higher than just a few weeks ago. Lesbos is turning into a vast camp of undocumented migrants, with hundreds of refugees packed in squares and sidewalks, and with women, children and even elderly people sleeping on the ground.

Many migrants are refusing to be fingerprinted when they arrive in Greece or Italy. Most migrants prefer to reach the wealthier countries such as Britain or Germany, and if they are fingerprinted then they be forced to remain in Greece or Italy.

According to one EU official:

Over the last year it became apparent that certain nationalities (Syrians and Eritreans) were refusing to comply with fingerprinting procedures.

‘This cannot go unchallenged: we agree with the [European] Commission that individuals must be given the opportunity to understand that non-compliance will have consequences.

It is now being proposed that coercion will be used to fingerprint migrants when they arrive, and to deport any migrants who refuse to be fingerprinted. Greek Reporter and Daily Mail (London)

KEYS: Generational Dynamics, Colombia, Venezuela, Nicolás Maduro, Juan Manuel Santos Calderón, La Violencia, Simón Bolívar, Ecuador, Greece, Lesbos, Aegean Sea, Italy, Britain, Germany
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