326 Venezuelan armed forces officials have defected in Colombia
The number of members of the Venezuelan Armed Forces who defected across the Venezuelan-Colombian border since Saturday, February 23, has risen to 326, according to Colombian immigration authorities.
After last Saturday`s events, in which a plan to deliver humanitarian aid to Venezuela failed due to the blockade that the authorities ordered to the military in the borders of the country, groups of military in disagreement with the prevailing regime have decided to cross the border. They consider as their new Commander in Chief the president of Parliament and declared interim president of Venezuela Juan Guaidó, recognized as the only legitimate authority by Colombia.
The majority has arrived through the department of Norte de Santander, followed by Arauca, Guajira, indicated Colombia’s migration office in a statement.
Christian Krüger, director of the migration gubernamental agency, said that the police and military flee the “dictatorship” of Nicolás Maduro in search of food because the shortages, for the “political situation”, requesting the status of refugees before the authorities of his country.
The official said that some of the soldiers arrive “with their arms, their uniforms, as civilians or with their family” and that they claim to be fleeing from the “pressure” of the collectives, as they call the armed civilian groups related to Maduro’s government.
Guaidó, recognized as president in charge by fifty countries, offered amnesty to the members of the Armed Forces to break with the “usurper” government of Nicolás Maduro, increasingly clinging to the military sector to stay in power.
The first defections took place on Saturday before the outbreak of aid in trucks with food and medical supplies donated by the United States and other countries.
However, the operation had to be withdrawn at the end of the afternoon after hours of clashes between demonstrators and military and paramilitary forces. The strong blockade imposed by Maduro led to riots that left four dead and hundreds injured on the borders of Venezuela with Colombia and Brazil.
Krüger said that Colombia evaluates the background of each of these deserters, whose names and ranks are unknown. Meanwhile, they receive a temporary safe-conduct that allows them to take refuge in Colombian territory.
With AFP’s information