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Venezuela and Colombia Recall Ambassadors amid Border Crisis


Venezuela and Colombia have recalled their envoys following days of growing tension between the neighboring South American nations.

More than 1,000 Colombians have been deported and about 6,000 have left in fear since Venezuela President Nicolas Maduro closed the border last week.

On August 27, Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos said it was “unacceptable” and withdrew his ambassador.

The Venezuelan government followed suit later in the day.

Nicolas Maduro closed the border and declared a state of emergency in the western state of Tachira on August 21 after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian.

Photo AP

Photo AP

Announcing the recall of his ambassador, Juan Manuel Santos condemned the expulsions.

“I can’t allow Venezuela to treat Colombians and the Colombian government in this way,” he said.

Th president added that he would call for an extraordinary meeting of foreign ministers from the Union of South American Nations.

A while later, Venezuelan Foreign Minister Delcy Rodriguez announced that Caracas was recalling its own ambassador to Colombia for consultations.

Smugglers have long operated along the porous border between the countries, purchasing heavily subsidized goods in Venezuela to resell in Colombia.

Talks by the countries’ foreign ministers on August 26 were aimed at normalizing the situation in the key border region of Cucuta.

Hundreds are living in shelters there surrounded by the few possessions they could carry across the border on their backs.

Nicolas Maduro blames much of the violence on the Venezuelan side of the border on Colombian paramilitaries, whom he accuses of crossing the border freely to commit crimes.

In order to fight these gangs he declared a 60-day state of emergency on August 21 which, among other things, allows the authorities to search homes without a warrant.

However, the Colombian president said those who had been deported were “no paramilitaries but poor and humble families who only want to live and work”.

Juan Manuel Santos said some had complained of mistreatment by the Venezuelan security forces. The Venezuelan foreign minister dismissed allegations as “media lies”.

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