Late last night, Maduro announced that he would extend the state of exception to Amazonas state. While he has not specified which municipalities in the state he would place under the state of exception, it is likely that it will be in municipalities that border Colombia. In Amazonas state, there are five municipalities along the Colombian border.
Maduro did say that the municipalities under a state of exception in Amazonas will be placed in the Zone 8 jurisdiction.
There are currently 23 municipalities under a state of exception across the states of Zulia, Tachira and Apure.
Maduro also announced a 6-month plan to normalize the situation along the border with Colombia, saying:
Starting tomorrow, we’ll establish the basis for a new peaceful border and we’ll look to establish the steps towards normalization.
Confusion over Army Exercises in Country’s East
Yesterday, Guyanese President David Granger denounced what he called an “extraordinary” build up of Venezuelan army units along the country’s border. Later in the day, Minister of Defense Vladimir Padrino Lopez issued a statement saying that the Venezuelan army was engaged in “exercises” in the country’s eastern regions, giving some credence to Granger’s claims.
However, late last night, Maduro said that Granger was lying, and that there was no such build-up taking place. On Granger’s comments, Maduro said:
You’re lying, Mr. Granger. Lying, lying, lying (…) let us not fall into provocations from a provocateur who is being played like a puppet by transnational oil companies.
Maduro’s comments appear to be at odds with reality. Today, Venezuelan army Major General Luis Epifanio Medina Fernandez, concurred with the Minister of Defense by saying that there were in fact military exercises taking place in the country’s eastern region, namely Bolivar state, which borders Guyana.
Below, a video of Ferndez’s comments earlier today, along with my translation:
Ferndandez: … in which approximately 4,557 combatants are taking part. We add to that our National Bolivarian Militia in support of these maneuvers. These are exercises in which the four components of our National Bolivarian Armed Forces are taking part, along with the National Bolivarian Militia as I’ve said. This is routine. This is a National Bolivarian Armed Force that readies itself and exercises each day.
In this airport, we are also carrying out a type of military operation that is the safeguarding of an air field to bring in support personnel. This all involves the integral defense of the nation. The armed forces are getting ready each day. These are maneuvers that form part of that exercise, Patriota 2015, which is taking place all around the country, and specifically here, in the Guayana region [in Bolivar state]. This is an extensive region. The climate is really humid here, so we have to get ready each day. This is all taking place with the contribution of the whole Venezuelan nation and all of us who form part of the National Bolivarian Armed Forces, who are willing to ready ourselves for the integral defense of the nation.
This has also been supported by all of the civilian organizations that form part of this region, which also involves national development. We have attended to the civilian population in every respect: food, infrastructure, social care, all of which apply directly to the development of the Venezuelan people.
Reporter: Are these strategies also related to the fight against contraband and illegal mining here?
Fernandez: Yes. This is a region that is rich in natural resources, so we have to safeguard it. Also, it forms part of the defense of those natural resources where there is illegal mining and destructive, which we are organizing — we are combating it so that citizens can feel safe and they can pass on into the law with that type of mining, because we should contribute everything to the preservation of our natural habitat.
Guyana to Move Troops to Border, Claims Naval Incursion
Mark Philips, the head of the Guyana Defense Forces, announced today that the country would mobilize troops to the Venezuelan border. While he did not specify a time frame for the deployment, he did say that the Guyanese military had detected an increased presence of Venezuelan troops along its border since Saturday.
At the same time, Guyanese Foreign Affairs Minister Carl Greenidge said that Venezuelan naval ships had been spotted on the Coeroeni river, a waterway the country considers to be theirs. Greenidge said:
They have also taken to launching a number of boats, armed vessels in the Coeroeni River, which, as you know, is one of Guyana’s waterways,
Colombian, Venezuelan Foreign Affairs Minister Meet
Delcy Rodriguez and Maria Angela Holguin, the Foreign Affairs Ministers of Venezuelan and Colombia, respectively, met in Caracas today as part of the process to find a resolution to the ongoing border crisis.
Holguin was part of a delegation that included the Colombian Minister of Defense and the Army Chiefs of Staff, along with other dignitaries.
The meeting ended without a declaration from either party.
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