Fears of military conflict between Venezuela and Colombia as tensions over Maduro government escalate

The Washington Post
Venezuelan armed forces take part in military exercises The Washington Post | James Alexander Michie

Venezuelan armed forces take part in military exercises near the Colombian border last week. (Johnny Parra/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock)

Fear as to the possible military conflict between Venezuela and Colombia increases as growing tensions over Maduro’s government.

The US-led effort to force Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro to leave office has entered a new stage, with growing fears of military conflict between Venezuela and Colombia, and the activation of a 70-year mutual defense treaty between Western hemisphere countries.

Members of the Inter-American Treaty of Reciprocal Assistance agreed last week to invoke the 1947 pact, better known as the Rio Treaty, which allows joint actions ranging from economic sanctions to the use of military force and cutting transport and communications links. In this way, the Foreign Ministers of the 19 member countries of the treaty will meet at the end of this month to decide what measures are necessary to stop the threat.

Accusations everywhere

For its part, Colombia has accused Maduro, who announced military exercises at its shared border last week, is organizing and arming Colombian guerrillas who have threatened to reactivate a terrorist campaign, including what Colombia’s intelligence service says are plans to start bombing central sites in Bogotá.

Meanwhile, US President Donald Trump has expressed frustration over Maduro’s permanence power, eight months after the administration recognized a new opposition-led government in Venezuela and began imposing heavy sanctions on Maduro officials and The country’s oil dominated economy. Last week, he criticized his dismissed national security adviser, John Bolton, who was orchestrating the policy. Making fun of him as “Mr. Hard Guy” on a variety of issues, Trump said Bolton was “stopping” in Venezuela.

Administration officials, while acknowledging that the treaty includes provisions for the use of military force, said their immediate objective was to increase sanctions, including possible interdiction at sea of ships carrying Venezuelan oil, and provide a legal framework so that other countries in the hemisphere can join them.

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Source: Karen DeYoung | The Washington Post

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