The Union of South American Nations (UNASUR) Secretary-General Ernesto Samper announced Tuesday that during the next ministerial meeting of the bloc he would propose forming a commission to verify and protect human rights at the border between Colombia and Venezuela.
The proposal is related to another one made by Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro to integrate a South American truth commission for the border between both nations.
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Maduro suggested on Aug. 28 that a commission be created to help clarify the current border situation after it was closed when three Venezuelan soldiers were seriously injured in an attack by paramilitaries from Colombia.
The soldiers were carrying out security details at the border against smuggling.
“Since there is so much manipulation [of information] I propose that a South American truth commission be established to visit the border and monitor the situation there. Also, to come and see the situation of paramilitarism and drug trafficking,” the president said.
Maduro also proposed that a person who represents South America lead the commission.
“We should have this commission come to defend the people at the border from paramilitaries, to help us achieve peace in face of so many lies, plots and conspiracy,” he said.
The Venezuelan government has expressed its full commitment to protecting the human rights of all people, including Colombian refugees who are in the country and to those who are sent back to Colombia because they are living illegally in Venezuela.
Currently, around 5.6 million Colombians live in Venezuela, having come to the country fleeing war, violence and poverty. In Venezuela, they have been granted full protection, including access to education, health, housing, food, culture, work security, sports and other social rights.
In the last nine years, 800,000 Colombians have arrived in Venezuela. About 150,000 Colombians cross the border into Venezuela on a daily basis in search for a better life. All this contradicts the media campaign promoted by Venezuelan and Colombian right-wing members who are trying to paint a false image of the realities in Venezuela.
Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos requested a UNASUR meeting last week, as did Venezuela. The meeting, however, was postponed because Venezuelan Foreign Minister Delcy Rodriguez had a prior engagement to travel to Vietnam and China with Maduro.
Also last week, Rodriguez met with her Colombian counterpart Maria Angela Holguin, with whom she agreed to jointly fight crime at the border. However, tension later escalated with no apparent motive. The Venezuelan diplomatic head said she regretted that the meeting with Holguin was later shadowed by the government of Colombia’s decision to recall their ambassador to Venezuela for consultation. Venezuela responded equally.
Maduro called on Santos to resolve the issue diplomatically and through dialogue, but the Colombian president has insisted on escalating the crisis to international organizations.
On Monday, Colombia failed to garner support from the OAS for a meeting to discuss the border crisis. The regional body's consideration was that the issue was an internal matter that needed to be resolved by the parties involved through diplomacy.
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Disappointed by this defeat, Santos suggested his government would appeal to other international bodies.
Maduro decreed a state of constitutional exception in seven municipalities of the border state of Tachira in order to guarantee peace and tranquility. This included idenfinitely extending border closures.
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