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Security & Strategic Review - November 2019

Bilateral tensions rise over Venezuelan links to Colombian paramilitaries

In a press conference on 20 September, Venezuela’s communications minister Jorge Rodríguez announced that the Venezuelan armed forces had detained a member of the Colombian paramilitary group known as Los Rastrojos. This followed an earlier capture of another member of the same group on 16 September. The first man captured, Sauro Jesús Batista Rivera, also known as El Negro, was found at a lookout point for the gang; Venezuelan armed forces also found an abandoned vehicle with an adapted fuel tank for carrying smuggled diesel across the border, and destroyed a makeshift bridge that was being used as part of an illegal route for this type of contraband trafficking. Such announcements are unsurprising, since Venezuela’s President Nicolás Maduro announced on 3 September that areas bordering Colombia would be placed on amber alert, with 150,000 military personnel participating in exercises along the border from 10 to 28 September. 

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