The number of Venezuelan military servicemen who defected to Colombia within recent several days has exceeded 320, head of the Colombian migration service Christian Kruger Sarmiento said on Tuesday.
“As of now, we have accepted more than 320 Venezuelan brothers – military and officers of the Venezuelan guard – who are fleeing Venezuela, asking for help in our country. And this figure is increasing,” the official said, as quoted by the Caracas Radio broadcaster.
According to the head of the Colombian migration service, some of the servicemen crossed the border in uniform and with weapons, while others in civilian clothes and with children. He pointed out that many of the defected Venezuelan servicemen asked for asylum and the Colombian authorities were checking whether they really needed it.
The day before, Colombian President Ivan Duque said that more than 140 Venezuelan servicemen had defected to the neighboring country. The Venezuelan authorities have not commented on the issue yet.
Chile, Mexico Stand for Peaceful Resolution
Meanwhile, Chilean Foreign Minister Roberto Ampuero has underlined the country’s stance on the crisis, saying that Chile was against any use of force in Venezuela.
“As a member of the Lima Group, Chile reaffirms its commitment and conviction that the only solution to the Venezuelan problem is a peaceful way within the framework of international law… Peace and dialogue are the principles of our foreign policy,” Ampuero said.
According to the minister, at the Lima Group meeting, Chile proposed to incorporate in the final declaration a paragraph that outlines a commitment to a political and diplomatic solution to the crisis in Venezuela without any use of force.
A similar position has been voiced by Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, who said that Mexico was ready to become a host for dialogue on the normalization of the situation in the Latin American country.
“Mexico has always been able to help in the implementation of dialogue in order to achieve peace in any country. The doors on our territory are open to dialogue,” Obrador told a press conference in Mexico City.
Crisis in Venezuela
Venezuela is currently going through a political crisis. On January 5, lawmaker Juan Guaido was elected as the president of the opposition-controlled National Assembly, which all other government branches have been refusing to recognize in 2016. On January 23, two days after the Venezuelan Supreme Court annulled his election, Guaido declared himself the country’s “interim president.” Incumbent President Nicolas Maduro, who was sworn in for his second presidential term on January 10 after winning the May election, which part of the opposition boycotted, qualified Guaido’s move as an attempt to stage a coup orchestrated by Washington.
The United States immediately recognized Guaido, after which some 50 other countries followed suit. Russia, China, Cuba, Bolivia and a number of other states have, in the meantime, voiced their support for the legitimate government of Maduro. Mexico and Uruguay have refused to recognize Guaido, declaring themselves neutral and promoting crisis settlement via dialogue.