CARACAS – The speaker of the Venezuelan National Assembly, Juan Guaido, urged the country’s armed forces on Saturday to expel so-called irregular groups (guerrillas) taking shelter near the border with Colombia and defend Venezuela’s sovereignty.
“Are you happy that these irregular groups continue to operate freely at the border?” Guaido said during a press conference. “The invitation is that we exercise sovereignty and expel irregular groups from Venezuela, the invitation is really to enforce national sovereignty.”
The opposition leader, who took part in a political event in the central Venezuelan state of Aragua, once again accused the Nicolas Maduro regime – which he calls a dictatorship – of harboring and funding “narcoterrorist” groups such as the Colombian rebel guerrilla known as the National Liberation Army.
Guaido rejected Maduro’s blaming of the Colombian state for the rearmament that was recently announced by several former leaders of the dissolved FARC rebel militia and said that, on the contrary, it was the Maduro administration that was to blame for the presence of that group in Venezuela.
He also mentioned the Norway-backed talks between the opposition and the Maduro administration – which have been put on hold – and confirmed that the negotiations have not resumed.
The Venezuelan opposition has repeatedly denounced the presence of paramilitary groups in the country and believes that, in order to control them, Maduro must step down.
Venezuela has been experiencing escalated political tensions since January, when Maduro was sworn in for another six-year term following a resounding electoral win that was described as illegitimate by the opposition and a section of the international community.
In response, Guaido took oath as interim president based on specific articles of the Venezuelan constitution, after which he received the recognition of over 50 countries led by the United States.