Chaotic scenes played out at a border crossing between Venezuela and Colombia this afternoon, one day after Bogota announced that it was launching a new national initiative to deal with the influx of Venezuelans hoping to escape misery in their country. The new measures were announced by President Juan Manuel Santos yesterday in the city of Cucuta, and include the deployment of 3,000 national police officers to border crossings in order to help regulate the movement of people and crack down on crime in the areas.
The video below shows Colombian national police officers attempting in vain to control a mass of Venezuelan migrants at a border crossing earlier today. It’s not clear if the people in the video are attempting to cross into Colombia, or back into Venezuela:
In the video below, a Colombian police officer pleads with a crowd to remain calm while the border crossing prepares for their transit. The video appears to have been recorded at the Cucuta crossing. Below, the video along with my translation:
Police Officer: … maximum two. [Crowd reacts negatively] Yes, yes, but the way is blocked up there. What we can’t do right now is get desperate. We’ve waited a long–let’s wait a little bit more in an orderly fashion. I’m asking you to take care of the women and the children. Hang on to them tight, because we’ve already had reports of missing children. So, in an orderly fashion, let’s have some patience so that we can allow you to enter and exit the country. At this moment, moving out of the country [Colombia] is still restricted, so why would we call you onto the bridge so that you can [line up] there? Alright? Let’s be patient. It’s going to be at least an hour until we can open the crossing.
Reuters reported today that as many as 30,000 Venezuelans cross into Colombia each day in search of food, medicine and other necessities that are scarce in Venezuela, with the majority of them returning home at the end of the day. The number of Venezuelans living in Colombia grew by 62% in the second half of last year to 550,000.
PSUV Official Lays Out Fantasy War Vision on State TV
Roy Chaderton, a high-ranking official with the ruling PSUV party, launched into a bizarre tangent on the state-owned VTV network this evening. Chaderton spoke with certainty about an imminent Vietnam-style war he claims will be fought in Venezuela, following the country’s invasion by Colombian soldiers on U.S. government payroll. Chaderton ended the tangeant with the suggestion that Venezuela could invade Colombia in order to create a connection to the Pacific Ocean.
Below, Chaderton’s comments along with my translation:
Roy Chaderton: … we’re not isolated, but we’re fenced-off. Aside from Colombia, which is our enemy–I mean, the Colombian oligarchy, not our beloved Bolivarian Colombian people–there are other countries that are ready to invade Venezuela, and to continue to destabilize it. I know that our armed forces know about this well.
In front of us, we have NATO: Aruba, Curacao and Bonaire. Holland, in other words. Holland was involved in the blockade against Venezuela in 2002. They’re not innocent souls. This is a country with a colonial past with which we haven’t had problems in a long time, but these are all people who are getting together to emulate the empire [the United States] [to prepare for] the final assault.
I think that the empire is willing to risk the lives of the last Colombian soldier. The Colombians are going to try to get in through some points. We don’t know which ones–or, we’re pretending like we don’t know which ones. It could be from the south, or through the south of the lake [Maracaibo]. I we don’t trap them in time–and we will, because we have the technology and the ammunition, and on to of that, the courage.
Moreover, in these types of situations, there is an important factor that plays a large role, and this happened in Vietnam. Motivation is very important. A marine, a Colombian soldier that is sent to kill Venezuelans, I don’t think that’s going to go very easy for them.
On our side, defense, resistance–which is a very beautiful word, and that’s what we are doing right now–maybe we’ll get the idea to look to the southwest and come up with the fantasy of a Venezuelan path to the Pacific, in the event that the Colombians, the Santanderista Colombian oligarchy insists in destroying our country, as has been their intention over the past 200 years.
Chaderton, who was Minister of Foreign Affairs from 2002 to 2004 and ambassador to the Organization of American States from 2008 to 2015, has been known to make poorly thought-out comments on television.
Back in 2015, Chaderton said in a televised interview that a bullet travelling through the skull of an opposition protester would make a rattling sound, since the head of regime critics are hollow.
75% of Venezuelans Have Negative Opinion of Maduro as President
The Instituto Venezolano de Analisis de Datos (IVAD) [Venezuelan Institute for Data Analysis] released the results of a survey today showing that 75% of Venezuelans have a “bad” or “terrible” opinion of Maduro as president, helping to quantify the longstanding and widespread discontent with the regime.
According to the same survey, only 8.9% of Venezuelans believe that Maduro has done a “good” job as president, while 0.9% believe that he has done an “excellent” job.
The survey also found that 77% of Venezuelans believe that the country needs a new government, while only 16% said that it did not.
On their choice of candidate for the upcoming April 22 presidential election, the survey found that Maduro is in second place with 17.2% to Henri Falcon’s 23.6%.
The survey sampled 1,200 individuals between January 25 and February 2, and has a margin of error between 1.03-2.37%.
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