CARACAS (Sputnik) – The Venezuelan authorities will not open crossings on the country's border with Colombia as long as there is a risk of aggression toward Venezuela from its neighbour, Jorge Rodriguez, Venezuela’s minister of Communication and Information, has told Sputnik.
"We will continue keeping the border closed as long as there are intentions to cross into Venezuela from Colombia", Rodriguez said.
The minister called to respect Venezuela’s border and urged Ivan Duque, the president of Colombia, to "stop any aggressive attempts against Venezuela, stop supporting violent or aggressive groups that are currently [operating] near the border".
The three bridges, connecting Venezuela and Colombia, a long-time ally of the United States in Latin America, were closed by Caracas on 23 February. On the same day, the Venezuelan opposition, supported by Washington, tried to force US-sponsored aid into Venezuela through its borders with Colombia and Brazil, both of which reportedly back the opposition as well. The failed attempt sparked clashes between Venezuelan National Guard officers, who prevented trucks from crossing the country's border without permission, and pro-aid protesters. Colombia has also subsequently announced the partial closure of its border with Venezuela.
Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro has denounced the unauthorised aid delivery as part of Washington's attempts to intervene in Venezuela and oust him from power, saying the opposition and Colombia had gathered gangs of bandits at the border to attack Venezuela.
The country is currently in the midst of a political crisis as on 23 January, two days after the Venezuelan Supreme Court annulled his election, opposition leader Juan Guaido declared himself the country's "interim president". Maduro, who was sworn in for a second presidential term on 10 January after winning a May 2018 election that part of the opposition boycotted, qualified Guaido's move as an attempt to stage a coup orchestrated by Washington.
The United States immediately recognised Guaido, after which some 50 other countries, including Colombia, followed suit. Russia, China, Cuba, Bolivia and a number of other states have, in the meantime, voiced their support for the legitimate government of Maduro. Mexico and Uruguay have also refused to recognise Guaido, declaring themselves neutral and promoting a crisis settlement via dialogue.
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