Colombia Accuses Venezuelan Soldiers of Invading, Pillaging Indigenous Border Community

CARACAS, VENEZUELA - FEBRUARY 01: Venezuelan soldiers march during a military parade in Caracas, Venezuela on February 1, 2017. (Photo by Carlos Becerra/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
Carlos Becerra/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images, File

Government officials in Colombia have accused the Venezuelan military of invading the Colombian province of La Guajira, Reuters has reported.

According to the outlet, the Colombian Foreign Ministry delivered a letter to the Venezuelan embassy in Bogotá alleging that Venezuelan security forces crossed into the Colombian border town of Paraguachon, La Guajira, and began attacking local residents as well as stealing money and cell phones.

The governor of La Guajira, Wielder Guerra, claimed that as many as 20 Venezuelan national guardsmen crossed the border on motorcycles.

“The incursion lasted a few minutes,” Guerra told a local radio station. “They arrived in the area of an indigenous group and started attacking them, taking their money and attacking them with rubber bullets and tear gas.”

“If the Colombian military had done a similar thing, there would be serious consequences,” he added after four members of the local Wayúu reported injuries.

However, Venezuelan dictator Nicolás Maduro described a different version of events, claiming that his soldiers were practicing military exercises in response to possible military action from the United States against the regime.

Meanwhile, Colombian newspaper El Tiempo reported that guardsmen returned on Sunday to collect evidence of their wrongdoing.

“The guards did not enter in a similar way to Saturday, they arrived much calmer to collect evidence, asking people to give them video evidence, rubber bullets and the cartridges from anti-explosive bombs,” community leader Ricci Deluque told the outlet.

The incident is likely to increase tension between the two countries, a month after Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos joined the international community in recognizing the Maduro regime as a dictatorship, following his creation of an illegal law making body designed to consolidate his own power.

Colombia is also currently preparing for a potential exodus of Venezuelans by drawing up plans for refugee camps in response to exponentially increasing immigration amid Venezuela’s political and humanitarian crisis.

Last week, Santos also confirmed that he would give asylum to Venezuela’s former chief prosecutor Luisa Ortega Diaz if she asked for it.

A former loyalist to Hugo Chávez, Ortega broke ranks with the government over their rewriting of the constitution and was forced to flee to Colombia via speedboat. She has not yet confirmed whether she will accept the offer.

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