Venezuela slams Colombia over refugee sta­tus granted to dis­si­dent

Gulf Times - - LATIN AMERICA -

Ten­sion was run­ning high over the week­end be­tween Venezuela and Colombia, with Cara­cas ac­cus­ing Bo­gota of pro­tect­ing its en­e­mies af­ter Colombia granted refugee sta­tus to Venezue­lan dis­si­dent Julio Borges.

Colombia pro­tected “Venezue­lan cit­i­zens who se­ri­ously at­tack democ­racy and the life of Venezue­lan pres­i­dents,” the gov­ern­ment said.

Colombia an­nounced on Thurs­day that it had granted refugee sta­tus to Borges, a for­mer pres­i­dent of Venezuela’s Na­tional As­sem­bly, whom Cara­cas ac­cuses of mas­ter­mind­ing a drone at­tack on Pres­i­dent Ni­co­las Maduro in Au­gust.

The Venezue­lan state­ment de­scribed Borges as “a no­to­ri­ous en­emy of peace in Venezuela.”

Foreign Min­is­ter Jorge Ar­reaza mean­while crit­i­cised Colom­bian Pres­i­dent Ivan Duque on Twit­ter, say­ing he was un­fairly blam­ing on Venezuela the “aban­don of the Colom­bian side of the bor­der, which favoured the de­vel­op­ment of drug traf­fick­ing, paramil­i­tarism, crim­i­nal gangs and Colom­bian ir­reg­u­lar groups.”

Re­la­tions be­tween the two coun­tries are icy, with Colombia cur­rently hav­ing no am­bas­sador in Cara­cas af­ter the last one was re­called last year.

Colombia hosts nearly 1mn Venezue­lans, many of whom have fled the eco­nomic cri­sis and po­lit­i­cal un­rest in the neigh­bour­ing coun­try.

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