BOGOTA – Colombia’s Carlos Holmes Trujillo Carlos Holmes Trujillo said on Tuesday that Washington has not asked Bogota for permission to send US troops to the country amid the crisis in neighboring Venezuela.
“They have not suggested it,” Trujillo said at a press conference when asked if at any time the US government has raised the possibility to Colombia of increasing its military presence in that country.
The question came a day after television cameras captured the phrase “5,000 troops to Colombia” on a legal pad held by US National Security Adviser John Bolton during a White House appearance to announce new sanctions against the regime of Venezuelan leftist incumbent Nicolas Maduro.
The image of the notebook caused a stir in Colombia, where all sorts of speculation broke out about whether the notation was related to the crisis in Venezuela.
On that subject, the foreign minister insisted that the government of President Ivan Duque “doesn’t know the reason or the significance of that mention of Colombia on that notebook.”
Trujillo recalled that the dialogue between Bogota and Washington is constant and ongoing.
“I am not going to get ahead of myself on anything, especially not on such a sensitive matter, and I simply reiterate that nothing is known regarding the reason or significance of that mention on the notebook of Mr. John Bolton during the ... press conference,” he said.
During the White House briefing, Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin announced sanctions against Venezuelan state oil company PDVSA and its US subsidiary, service station chain Citgo.
Colombia is one of numerous Latin American countries that have joined the US in recognizing the leader of Venezuela’s opposition-controlled National Assembly, Juan Guaido, as the country’s acting president, dismissing Maduro’s victory in the May 2018 election as illegitimate.
Spain, Germany and the United Kingdom have given Maduro an ultimatum to call new elections within eight days or see Madrid, Berlin and London recognize Guiado.
Maduro enjoys support from Russia and China, while Mexico and Uruguay have offered to mediate between the parties in Venezuela.
Bogota is Washington’s closest ally in Latin America and over the last 19 years, only Israel and Egypt have received more US aid than Colombia.