CARACAS – President Hugo Chávez said that right-wing militias from neighboring Colombia engaged in a gunbattle with security forces in the central Venezuelan state of Cojedes.
Attackers armed with machine guns fired on members of the security forces Saturday night near the town of Tinaquillo, the leftist head of state said on his weekly television and radio program, “Hello, President!”
He did not say whether the incident produced any casualties.
Referring to the northwestern part of his country, Chávez said that the “left flank of Venezuela” is “mined” with paramilitaries from Colombia.
The president spoke of “many indications of a paramilitary force” operating in the opposition-governed states of Zulia and Tachira.
Former Vice President Jose Vicente Rangel denounced Sunday “an increase in the presence of Colombian paramilitaries in Zulia state with the consent of the authorities.”
“These groups of violent action, imported from Colombia, have close relations with the Zulia state government,” although the paramilitaries are also active in the neighboring states of Apure, Barinas and Tachira, he said.
Shortly before Chávez made his accusations, a senior opposition politician said that the federal government “plans to stage a set-up in the border areas of Zulia and Tachira to associate the governors with alleged paramilitaries and then accuse them of treason against the nation.”
Information about the ostensible plot was provided by area residents, said Alejandro Vivas, deputy national secretary of the Christian Democratic COPEI party. EFE