Maduro responded to comments made by Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos that Venezuela respect the rights of its citizens in the country. On his television show En Contacto Con Maduro last night, Maduro said:
And President Santos has the nerve to ask us to respect Colombians? Who disrespects Colombians? The people who expel them from their country, the ones who don’t give them homes, work, education, or us Venezuelans who have 5.6 million here, and they study, work, love and live here among us? Who disrespects the humble people of Colombia, President Santos? Tell me. We respect each other – I’m telling you this with all due respect.
It is not clear how Maduro arrived at his 5.6 million figure. Recently, Migracion Colombia [Colombia Immigration] refuted claims by Maduro that 121,000 Colombians had arrived in Venezuela in 2015 alone, saying that it believed only 8,000 of its citizens had moved to Venezuela this year.
Maduro said that Santos was “being lied to by the oligarchy” regarding the situation along the border.
Maduro also said that a census would take place starting today in the six Tachira municipalities currently under the state of exception:
Tomorrow begins an integral population, commercial, and economic census in the six municipalities in the state of exception along the border and we’re going to determine everything to see who lives there, who owns that, and where the warehouses are.
Finally, Maduro promised viewers that the December 6 parliamentary elections would go on as planned:
Guaicaipuro’s troops arrived late, and you can’t arrive late to a definite battle. Or not arrive at all. It’s not like… “we won already”. We won already? No, we have yet to win. I’m telling you, youths of the barrio. I’m telling you right now: come rain, thunder or lightening, no matter what happens, there will be elections in Venezuela on December 6 and we will win them via knockout. We must win again the parasitic paramilitary bourgeois.
Venezuelan, Colombian Foreign Ministers Meet
Venezuelan Minister of Foreign Affairs Delcy Rodriguez held a meeting today with her Colombian counterpart, Maria Angela Holguin, to discuss the ongoing border crisis. Rodriguez qualified the meeting as a success, saying that the two countries had “taken the first steps” towards resolving the issue.
She also said that a meeting between the countries’ respective Ministers of Defense would take place shortly. Rodriguez also said:
More than a border, we are joined by a common history of freedom. It is with that brotherly compromise that we’ve come here today, and we will continue to work throughout the next meetings to build a border that strictly adheres to the law, and to build a health economic exchange rather than one that is the product of criminal enterprise.
Colombian President Arrives in Cucuta to Assess Situation
Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos arrived in Cucuta today to assess the situation in which the 1,000+ deportees from Venezuela find themselves in.
Santos spoke with some of the refugees living in makeshift camps in Cucuta and the surrounding region, and heard how some of the deportees were forced to leave all of their belongings behind in Venezuela. Santos said that “trucks” were ready to go into Venezuela to collect possessions pending approval from Venezuelan authorities.
Finally, Santos said:
We’ve been here from day one. This government does love you and listens to you.
Testimony From Deportees Makes Front Page News in Colombia
The Colombian press is continuing to focus on the plight of deportees. An article published in today’s El Tiempo contains testimony from Colombian citizens who were forced to flee Venezuela in the past few days. The article focuses on people who escaped Venezuela once they found out the National Guard was rounding up Colombian citizens, and then attempted to return to the country to pick up some of their possessions.
Emel Alberto Mendez told El Tiempo that he had been living in Tachira state for seven years when he was “forced to run” across the border into Colombia on Monday under threats of being shot by the Venezuelan soldiers. Mendez said that he tried to return to Venezuela later, but was intercepted by Venezuelan soldiers:
I crossed at 4:30 PM. I found them and they said, “Where are you going?” I said, “I’m going to pick up my things”, and they told me that I couldn’t, and then said, “You have one minute”. They cocked their rifles, like they were getting them ready, and they pointed them at me.
A woman named Maria Guerrero, a resident of Venezuela for 40 years, was forced to flee across the Tachira river into Colombia on Monday night. She said:
I’m going to die. I don’t know what to do.
Colombian citizens and authorities have allegedly been helping deportees carry their possessions across the border since the deportations began.
Below, a picture of Colombian citizens fleeing Venezuela across a river in Tachira. Note the multitude of people doing the same off in the distance, on the top left of the picture:
A deported carrying whatever he can across a river into Colombia:
Torrential Rains Cause Flooding in Caracas
Torrential rainfall last night caused the Guaire river to overflow its banks, flooding streets and subway stations with raw sewage.
Below, some pictures from around Caracas last night. From the La Bandera neighbourhood:
From another section of the city:
Finally, flooding in the Mercado subway station :
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