Colombian Minister of Defense Luis Carlos Villegas said today that the diplomatic incident stemming from the incursion by 60 Venezuelan soldiers into Colombia last week has been resolved.Calling the incident “serious”, Villegas said that a mixture of “patience” and President Santos’ personal intervention brought a resolution to the matter.

The incident began last Monday, when 60 Venezuelan soldiers crossed the Arauca river into Colombia from Apure state and set up a temporary base on a Colombian farmer’s land. The soldiers stayed at the camp until Wednesday night, when President Santos called Maduro and asked him to withdraw the troops.

Villegas said that he trusted the the incursion would not be repeated in the future, and that the Colombian armed forces stood ready to “defend” their country.

When asked by reporters who the incursion had taken place at all, Villegas said:

That question isn’t for us. It’s for the Venezuelans.

Yesterday, Venezuelan Minister of Defense Vladimir Padrino Lopez said that he was “sure” that the soldiers were camped on Venezuelan territory. A day earlier, Foreign Affairs Minister Delcy Rodriguez had suggested that the soldiers may simply have become disoriented, because according to her the riverbed around the area in which the incident took place often changes depending on the flow of the river.

A Colombian regional government official called the idea that the Venezuelan soldiers may have been disoriented or still in Venezuelan territory “absurd”, since to enter Colombia they would simply have had to cross the river, making the determination of their location a straightforward affair.

Allup: AD Party Renewal Process Has Been “Excellent”

Henry Ramos Allup, the head of the Accion Democratica opposition party, told reporters today that the party’s renewal process has been “excellent”, and that he expects that the party will meet the requirements set by the Consejo Nacional Electoral (CNE) in order for it to continue to exist.

When asked by reporters if he could give some figures about how many people turned out to sign on behalf of the party, Allup said:

Our figures are one thing, and those of the CNE are another. Since theirs are the official ones, we have to wait to see what they say. We have a record of everything who has signed (…) but I will tell you that even with the CNE’s figures, we’re seeing excellent results.

Venezuelan political parties are currently undergoing an onerous renewal process that critics have qualified as nothing but a naked attempt by the Maduro regime to eliminate political plurality in the country.

Peru Thanks Venezuela for Humanitarian Aid

The government of Peru has formally thanked Venezuela for sending 17 tonnes of humanitarian aid to the country yesterday in response to severe floods in the country. The shipment will be followed up by another 66 tonnes of food aid which is scheduled to arrive in Peru today.

The flooding, which is the worst to hit the nation in decades, has killed 90 people and left and damaged 149,000 homes.

Peruvian President Pablo Kuczynski thanked Venezuela for the aid through his Twitter account, saying:

We give our thanks to the Venezuela people for sending humanitarian aid to Peru. #TogetherStrong

CODEVIDA Worried UN Aid Will Be Given to CLAP

Yesterday, Maduro said that he had “asked the United Nations for help” with the country’s ongoing health crisis. Although it is not entirely clear exactly what kind of help Maduro asked for or in which form the help will arrive, there are concerns that Maduro will mismanage whatever aid does arrive in the country.

Today, the president of the Coalición de Organizaciones para el Derecho a la Salud y la Vida [Coalition of Organizations for the Right to Health and Life] (Codevida), Francisco Valencia, held a press conference in which he said that he hoped that the aid would be kept out of the hands of the CLAP, which is a regime-run food distribution program. The program is available only to individuals who sign up for a special regime ID.

Since its inception last year, the CLAP system has been accused numerous times of being discriminatory against opposition supporters.

Valencia stressed that any aid from the UN cannot be used in a discriminatory fashion:

One of the conditions that the [UN] establishes is that [the giving of aid] cannot be discriminatory, and we hope that the government will not distribute medicine through the CLAP. [We also hope that the government will not] ask for the carnet de la patria [the special regime I.D.], because those who did not want to get the I.D. would not be able to get the medicine.

At the same time, Valencia expressed his skepticism at Maduro’s announcement, and pointed out that Maduro did not provide any kind of of clarification on the nature of his request for help.

Survey: 66% Do Not Believe El Aissami Drug Trafficking Allegations

A survey by the Hinterlaces firm has found that 66% of Venezuelans do not believe the allegations made last month that Vice President Tarek El Aissami is personally involved in drug trafficking operations in the country. Only 24% of respondents believe the allegations.

Last month, El Aissami became the target of financial and travel sanctions by the United States Department of the Treasury after it accused El Aissami of being a drug “kingpin”.

The same survey found that 59% of respondents believe that the allegations are part of a “conspiracy against President Maduro”.

The survey sampled 1,580 households in the country March 2-15.

Questions/Comments? E-mail me: invenezuelablog@gmail.com

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