On Friday, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro declared a 60-day State of Exception for the Venezuelan municipalities of Bolivar, Ureña, Junin, Freedom and Independence in Tachira state. These municipalities are all along the border with Colombia.
Maduro further announced that the border with Colombia will remain closed beyond the 72 hours that were initially declared by Venezuela after three of its soldiers were attacked near the border Wednesday night.
The Governor of Tachira, Jose Gregorio Vielma Mora, has been charged with overseeing the state of exception.
Maduro's declarations come amid growing fears in Venezuela about the role of paramilitaries in seeding violence across the country. Earlier in the week Maduro had announced that at least 30 paramilitary groups were operating in Venezuela.
"We decided to combat all forms of paramilitarism in the country," said Maduro, as he called on people to work united against right-wing conspiracies.
"We will continue to work for peace and the security of the Venezuelan people," he said while acknowledging the actions taken by the organized communities.
The government has increased its military presence on the border, concentrating it in Tachira state, in the south west of the country. The government hopes to capture those responsible for another attack against three soldiers and one civilian. It also aims to combat crime, paramilitarism, and smuggling of Venezulean goods across the border, where they can be sold for much higher.
According to Maduro the decree is “to consolidate peace, liberate the people of this paramilitary stain that attacks our people.”
Under the Venezuelan Constitution a state of exception can be applied in extraordinary circumstances that severely affect the security of the public, the country and its institutions. It is similar to a state of emergency, except that basic human rights continue to apply and are not suspended.
**Correction: this article orginally said two soldiers were injured.