Closure of border with Colombia to remain:Maduro

The border with Colombia in the western state of Tachira will remain closed until “order and the minimum safety conditions” are restored in the area that has been subject of paramilitary and smuggling activities, said Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro said on August 24 in Caracas.

(Soundbite) NICOLAS MADURO, Venezuelan President
“The border will remain closed until at least we can reestablish peaceful coexistence, and respect for law, life and economy. It will remain closed.”

In a press conference with international media, Maduro confirmed that six border municipalities in Tachira will go on with emergency state, as a bilateral meeting next week is expected to start “healthy border relation with Colombia.”

(Soundbite) NICOLAS MADURO, Venezuelan President
“Venezuela is a victim of paramilitary groups, the business of hard drugs, drug trafficking and the capitalist Colombian right-wing groups. We are victims and so we declare (the closure). As victim in the combat, now we have to react so.”

Next week the foreign ministers of both nations will meet in Cartegena de Indias in Colombia to discuss this issue.

Maduro last week closed a major crossing between the two countries after three army officers were shot and wounded by gunmen who he said belonged to paramilitary gangs operating from Colombia.

Army troops and local security forces have deported hundreds of Colombians as part of an offensive along the border that is ratcheting up the tensions between the two neighbors.

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