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Venezuelan navy soldiers patrol the Arauca River, the natural border with Colombia, seen from Arauquita, Colombia Venezuelan navy soldiers patrol the Arauca River, the natural border with Colombia, seen from Arauquita, Colombia, March 26, 2021 (AP photo by Fernando Vergara).

Venezuela’s ‘Unprecedented’ Military Offensive Raises Border Tensions With Colombia

Thursday, April 15, 2021

For years, the Venezuelan government has permitted armed groups from neighboring Colombia to operate within its borders. It has even occasionally conspired with these groups, taking a cut of the profits from their drug trafficking, extortion and other illicit activities in exchange for allowing them freedom to maneuver.

But last month, Venezuela launched a major military offensive against a faction of Colombian guerrillas that is active near the two countries’ border, and which is believed to have fallen out of favor with President Nicolas Maduro’s autocratic government. These are not the first clashes between Venezuelan security forces and Colombian armed groups, but experts say the current fighting is fiercer than ever before. The violence has sparked a humanitarian crisis, displacing thousands of civilians, while also bringing the Maduro regime’s shadowy ties with Colombian guerrillas into the open. ...

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