United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres said today that the current situation in Venezuela is “very worrying”, and lamented that the crisis does not appear to have a solution in the short-term. Guterres made the comments during a press conference in Lisbon.

Guterres acknowledged the role that Colombia has on the front lines of the crisis as it affects migration out of Venezuela, and said:

We’re collaborating from the United Nations with Colombia [when it comes to giving] humanitarian aid to [Venezuelan migrants], but this is a very worrying issue.

On the possibility of a peaceful resolution to the crisis, Guterres said:

We are very worried about the fact that there is no political agreement in Venezuela, and that the situation does not have a solution on the horizon in the short-term.

Guterres, who is from Portugal, became secretary general of the United Nations in January of last year.

Santos Calls Venezuelan Migrant Crisis “Most Serious Problem” Affecting Colombia

Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos said today during a radio interview that the most pressing issue facing Colombia today is likely the growing Venezuelan migrant crisis. During the interview, Santos said:

The migrants that are arriving in our country [from Venezuela] are likely the most serious problem that we have at this moment.

Santos’ comments come as the influx of Venezuelans into Colombia threatens to overwhelm the country’s migratory system, particularly in border areas. As many as 30,000 Venezuelans walk into Colombia every day looking for respite from misery at home, and an increasing number are choosing to stay in the country to attempt to rebuild their shattered lives here. Two weeks ago, Santos deployed a wide-ranging set of measures meant to tackle the migrant crisis, including the deployment of thousands of police officers to the border.

On Bogota’s willingness to address the migrant crisis, Santos said that his government has sent working groups to other countries, including Turkey, in order to research best practices for dealing with similar situations. Santos said:

We’re trying to see how we can manage this issue in the best possible way. We’re learning. We’ve sent missions to other placed, like for example Turkey, so that we can learn how they have managed the Syrian refugees.

Santos also said that while his government has been able to “manage” the migrant influx, the fact that more and more Venezuelans are coming into Colombia means that “financial pressures” as well as infrastructure demands in border areas threaten to overwhelm Bogota’s efforts. Santos said that Colombia was even willing to receive international aid in order to help Venezuelan migrants. He said:

We are ready to receive international aid, because the United Nations secretary general himself, after his recent trip to Colombia, says that these cases are growing and that they will require the effort of the entire world [to address] because the number of people needing attention increases exponentially, and no state has the capacity to absorb them.

Turning to the matter of the vitriolic hostility expressed by the Maduro regime towards the Colombian government, Santos said:

They always use the specter of foreign aggression to repress internally, and Maduro has said–not once, but a thousands times–that Colombia and the United States are in league to invade Venezuelan territory. That’s not new: they’ve said that many times [and] they have been saying it for a very long time.

Santos also stressed that the idea of a military invasion of Venezuela, and specifically one involving U.S. forces, is absurd:

That’s not the solution. A [U.S.] Marine invasion of Venezuela would be catastrophic, and it would have consequences for generations. A U.S. military intervention would be catastrophic for Venezuela and for Latin American relations with the United States.

There are at least 550,000 Venezuelans living in Colombia.

Former AG Diaz Hopes to See Maduro Arrested

Former attorney general Luisa Ortega Diaz formally asked the Venezuelan Supreme Court-in-exile to issue an arrest warrant for Maduro in connection to the Odebrecht corruption case. The move, which is largely symbolic, is the latest escalation of the Diaz-regime split which began in March of last year and reached its climax in August, when Diaz was removed from his position and forced to flee the country under mounting pressure from the regime.

In a press conference, Diaz said that there was evidence that Maduro received “many payments” through an offshore account in the Banco del Tachira and “another financial entity in Antigua” related to the massive corruption scandal, which saw the company pay bribes to government officials in exchange for contracts to the construction giant.

Diaz also reiterated claims that Hugo Chavez received dirty money to finance his 2012 presidential campaign, and that the corruption scheme involved shell companies to make the transactions difficult to track.

Maduro’s 2013 presidential campaign was financed by Odebrecht as well, Diaz revealed, in exchange for contracts worth $2.5 billion were Maduro to win the vote.

Diaz said that she hoped that the Supreme Court-in-exile would issue an arrest warrant for Maduro, and that it would be “sent to the Peruvian authorities” in order that they may stop his entering the country for the April Summit of the Americas, which Maduro has vowed to attend.

Diaz served faithfully as attorney general under both Chavez and Maduro from 2007 and 2017. She was removed from her position after she became openly critical of the brutal repression with which the Maduro regime quelled anti-government protests in 2017.

The Supreme Court-in-exile is made up of magistrates appointed by the opposition-controlled National Assembly last year. The Court’s magistrates, forced to flee Venezuela under regime pressure, are spread across several countries, including Panama, Chile, Colombia and the United States. The body is a symbolic that, through its existence, hopes to call attention to the illegitimate nature of the Supreme Court that sits in Caracas.

Maduro Asks Trump for Dialogue

In a type of rhetorical reversal that has now become typical, Maduro asked U.S. President Donald Trump to sit down and talk out their differences. Maduro posed the question directly to the president, saying:

[Donald Trump] campaigned promoting non-intervention in other countries’ affairs. The time has come to meet that promise, and to exchange his aggressive agenda for one of dialogue. Should we talk in Caracas or in Washington DC? [Name] the time and the place and I will be there.

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

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