The Venezuelan military began a series of drills today along the border with Colombia, the latest in an escalation of tensions between the two countries initiated earlier this month by the Maduro regime’s inflammatory rhetoric. The drills are called “Venezuela Soberania y Paz 2019” (Venezuela Sovereignty and Peace 2019), and are expected to last several days.

The Protector of Tachira state, Freddy Bernal, tweeted the following message earlier today announcing the start of the drills:

Following the instructions from [Maduro], we are starting the [drills] in La Frida, Tachira, [which are meant to] defend our territory and which will be carried out in 3 steps of planning, preparation and deployment [sic]. Our victory is peace!

Bogota reacted to news of the start of the drills by calling for calm in a message delivered by vice president Marta Lucia Ramirez. She said:

We are calling on all Colombians to be calm about this, and to know that our forces are sufficiently equipped and capable [to deal with this]. We don’t have to pay attention to this threat, because it would be unreasonable to consider it real.

At the same time, Ramirez said that it was important for Colombia to remain “on guard” over the fact that the Maduro regime is “fomenting terrorism in Colombia”.

John Bolton, Anti-Maduro Hawk, Leaves White House

National Security Adviser John Bolton left the White House today, removing a powerful anti-Maduro hawk from play in Washington.

Bolton served inn that position since March of last year, and quickly became a loud critic of the Maduro regime. Bolton spoke often about the need to have Maduro vacate power in Venezuela, and came to be a popular figure among some circles of the Venezuelan opposition given his attitude.

On Bolton’s departure, CNN cited a White House source as saying:

John Bolton’s priorities and policies just don’t line up with the President’s and any sitting president has the right to put someone in that position that can carry out his agenda. That became no longer tenable so the President made a change.

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

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