Last week, Maduro announced that the large-scale military exercises would be held near the Colombian border from 10-28 September. According to Maduro, Venezuela was deploying air defence systems at its border with Colombia for the period of holding the drills. The president stressed that the country was boosting its forces in the area amid the threat of Bogota’s possible aggression against Caracas.
“Now we are arming the national militia. In order 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.
Relations between Caracas and Bogota worsened amid a political crisis that erupted in Venezuela. In January, the opposition tried to overthrow Maduro in a bid to install its leader Juan Guaido. The attempt failed but the unrest continued with Maduro accusing Bogota of being behind the plot to overthrow and assassinate him.
Colombia has denied the claims. However, Bogota, alongside some other countries, endorsed Guaido as an interim president. At the same time, China and Russia were among the states that supported Maduro as the only legitimate leader of Venezuela.