Tensions grow as Venezuela claims Colombian invasion imminent

By Michael Krumholtz February 13, 2018

Venezuelan Chief Prosecutor Tarek Saab claimed Monday that Colombia is preparing for a “military invasion” of its eastern neighbors before doubling down on the remarks Tuesday.

“In Colombia, they are planning to bring back times that have already ended, like military bombing, a military invasion or the occupation – through blood and gunfire – of a peaceful country like Venezuela,” Saab said during a speech in the Venezuelan state of Anzoátegui on Monday.

Colombian officials called the claim “an insult,” according to anonymous sources cited by local television station Caracol. General Alberto Mejia said at a Monday press conference that the military’s only worries at the moment come from within its own borders.

We have so many problems in our own country, and that’s what we are solely dedicated to and focused on,” Mejia said.

Saab continued to poke at the issue Tuesday while speaking with Bogotá’s Blu Radio.

“We are not going to allow this,” he said on the program. “Here are the armed forces, the people, and the democratic institutions that will never permit this to happen. May Colombia understand that here we are going to fight and resist. We are not afraid.”

Saab has not presented proof or given a reason for why there would be a planned military action on behalf of Colombia.

Venezuelan army commander Jesús Suárez Chourio followed up on Saab’s claims by saying his men are “alert, ready, and awake” for any possible invasion.

As the Colombian newspaper El Espectador pointed out, former Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez claimed on state television in 2008 that Colombia and the United States had plans to assassinate him.

Venezuela was on the tongues of both countries recently as U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson commented on the country’s dire economic circumstances during his visit to Colombia.

“We are all heartbroken by what we see happening in Venezuela, such a great country, and we are also heartbroken to see the impact it’s having on Colombia,” Tillerson told the press during his visit.

Meanwhile, Colombia continues to take in record amounts of Venezuelans who are fleeing the country. According to a Monday article from Colombian weekly Semana, nearly 800,000 Venezuelans entered into Colombia with their passports in 2017, a figure that more than doubles the 2016 migration rates.

As we reported last month, it has been a difficult adjustment for Colombia to receive large amounts of immigrants and this unfamiliar trend has led to rough conditions for Venezuelans trying to find work and better quality of life.

Relations between the two countries have steadily deteriorated throughout Venezuela’s economic crisis that has left it with what is believed to be the highest inflation rate in the world despite having the largest supply of proven oil reserves on the planet.

Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos said recently on Colombia’s W Radio that the country will not recognize the results of Venezuela’s April 22nd presidential elections. During the meeting with Tillerson, he stated that Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro would never allow a free election because “he knows he will lose.”