CARACAS – Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro said national militias will receive more than 500,000 firearms for military exercises near the Colombian border.
Last week Maduro announced large-scale military exercises near the Colombian border between September 10 and 28.
According to Maduro, Venezuela would be implementing air defense systems on its border with Colombia during the period of the exercises. The president stressed that the country is increasing its forces in the area amid the threat of possible aggression from Bogota against Caracas.
“Now we are arming the national militia. To distribute more than 500,000 firearms, the Venezuelan army will use its legal and institutional mechanisms,” Maduro said in a speech in the central state of Guarico on Wednesday.
— Nicolás Maduro (@NicolasMaduro) September 11, 2019
As the political crisis in Venezuela advanced, relations with Colombia deteriorated.
In January, the opposition tried to overthrow Maduro and position opposition leader Juan Guaidó as interim president. The attempt had no effect, but the tension continued and Maduro accused Bogota of being behind a plot to bring him down and murder him. Colombia denies the accusations.
Colombia was one of the countries that supported Juan Guaidó as interim president. China and Russia, however, remained among the states that supported Maduro as Venezuela’s legitimate leader.
Meanwhile, Venezuela today began a series of military exercises along the Colombian border, raising concerns in the neighboring country and igniting the warning throughout the region.
Earlier Tuesday, 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.
En cumplimiento del artículo 323 de nuestra Constitución, convoqué al Consejo de Defensa de la Nación para conducir, de forma colectiva y en unión Cívico–Militar, la actual coyuntura de graves amenazas por parte del gobierno guerrerista de Colombia en contra Venezuela. pic.twitter.com/GIYRqM1iue
— Nicolás Maduro (@NicolasMaduro) September 10, 2019