Tensions rise as Venezuela blows up footbridges on Colombian border

The governments of Colombia and Venezuela traded angry words again on Nov. 19 following the bombing of two footbridges connecting the two countries by Venezuelan guardsmen. The bridges were at the border town of Rangonvalia, where Venezuela’s Táchira state meet Colombia’s Norte de Santander department. In a statement, Colombia’s Foreign Ministry announced it will denounce the destruction of the bridges before the United Nations and the Organization of American States, charging in a statement that “this is a unilateral act of aggression against the civilian population and the border communities.”

Venezuela’s Vice President Ramón Carrizales, told Colombia’s Radio Caracol that the bridges were made illegally and used for drug trafficking. “It is incorrect to say that border bridges were destroyed, because they are illegal passways… [A]ny improvised crossing or path that is used to illegally enter or leave a country without complying to the agreements in place are considered illegal.” the official said.

Colombia’s Defense Minister Gabriel Silva Lujan called the destruction of the border bridges a provocation and stressed Colombia will not tolerate any “aggression against the civilian population or Colombian territory.” He denied that the bridges were improvised, saying, “Those bridges were built more than 30 years ago, it was infrastructure built to bring the community together, to work together.” He added: “The duty of the Defense Minister is to avoid war and provocations at any cost… Because of this we will not get involved in a war of words or insults… What we can not accept is an act of aggression against civilians or against the homeland. For that we are prepared.” He warned that the Colombian military is on “maximum alert.” (Colombia Reports, AFP, Nov. 20; Colombia Reports, Nov. 19)

See our last posts on Colombia and the crisis with Venezuela.

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