Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro has claimed that the Bogota government is aware of a plot emanating from Colombia to assassinate him, amid escalating border tensions between the two South American neighbors.
During a visit to Vietnam on Monday, Maduro accused his Colombian counterpart Juan Manuel Santos of being aware of the assassination plot that he said was being orchestrated from the Colombian capital, Bogota.
“I have evidence that I am going to show that a plot to kill me is being carried out from Bogota… regrettably with the knowledge of a Colombian government that looks the other way,” said the Venezuelan leader, without saying which parties he thought are behind the alleged plot.
The neighbors have a history of tensions, exacerbated by a current border dispute.
Venezuela closed part of the common border with Colombia in the northwestern state of Tachira and declared a 60-day state of emergency there after three Venezuelan soldiers were attacked on August 19 by gunmen while performing an anti-smuggling operation in the state’s city of San Antonio.
In the aftermath of the armed attack, Caracas initiated a crackdown on crime and smuggling, deporting more than 1,100 Colombian nationals and prompting over 10,000 others to flee.
Maduro has said the offensive is necessary to attack the criminal gangs that purchase gas and other goods sold at subsidized prices in Venezuela and resell them across the border for huge profits.
Caracas has also ordered the deployment of 3,000 troops to the border areas, including the towns of Ayacucho, Garcia de Hevia, Lobatera and Panamericano. On Monday, a first contingent of 180 troops arrived in Tachira State.
The 2,200-kilometer (1,400-mile) border between the two countries is rife with guerrilla and smuggling activities.