Despite External Interest, Venezuela and Colombia Should Not Go to War

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CARACAS – Venezuela yesterday began a series of military exercises along the Colombian border, raising concerns in the neighboring country and igniting warning throughout the region.

Earlier on Tuesday, Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro called on the Nation’s Defense Council to address alleged threats being presented to the country by the Colombian government along the border.

“In compliance with article 323 of our Constitution, I summoned the National Defense Council to conduct, collectively and in a Civic-Military union, the current situation of serious threats by the warlike government of Colombia against Venezuela,” Maduro said on Twitter.

Later in the day, a military activity called Sovereignty and Peace 2019 began in the country , which will continue until the 28th in the border zone.

“From today #10Sep the Border Military Exercises “Sovereignty and Peace 2019” begin so that together, in Civic-Military union, we can deploy all the defensive systems that guarantee the Peace and tranquility of the Venezuelan peoplem” he said on Twitter.

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On the Colombian side, a representative of the government of Iván Duque, said, quoted by the press, that the country is on high alert for the planned exercises in the neighboring country, announced, according to him, whenever Maduro needs to seek internal support.

The recent rise in tensions between Colombians and Venezuelans comes months after a failed opposition plan to oust the current president of Venezuela and replace opposition leader Juan Guaidó, backed by Colombia, the United States and Brazil.

Over this period, analysts and officials from various countries have expressed concern that a major armed conflict may arise in the region,

International Relations Professor Fernando Almeida of the Fluminense Federal University (UFF) believes that rising tensions between Venezuela and Colombia should not really lead to armed conflict in the region. However, in an interview with Sputnik Brazil, he said he considered the Venezuelan government’s fear of possible US-led international action from Colombian territory plausible.

“It [Colombia] can really do that. Because of its long-standing ties with the United States, because it needs resources to combat cocaine trafficking, as it is the world’s largest producer, and the United States has opted for a strategy of drugs in the producing territories, it has resources from the United States, and is a right-wing government,” explained the scholar.

For Almeida, there is no doubt that there are currently international agents interested in this crisis situation between the two South American states. But Caracas’s stance on border military exercises would have a more local concern, not necessarily linked to a fear of international intervention.

“It is an always a tense region. And now, the displacement of these troops undoubtedly has behind this issue of having Colombian guerrillas and former guerrillas in the Venezuelan area, with the Colombian government protesting that they are welcome inside,” he said, citing the cases of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) and the National Liberation Army (ELN).

Still according to the UFF professor, despite several threats from US President Donald Trump, the latest developments in the relationship between Washington and Caracas seem to show that perhaps the White House team has understood that the economic sanctions already adopted represent “a very strong tourniquet over Venezuela”.

“Military intervention is not necessary and times are no longer for that,” the expert said, underlining the size of the Venezuelan territory and the size and mobilizing power of the people. “I believe the Trump administration has understood that what they can do from economic aspects to asphyxiate the Venezuelan government is already more than enough. Any initiative larger than that is immense political wear and tear.”

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