Weekend combat in Apure state at Venezuela’s western border with Colombia has resulted in casualties of members of Colombian paramilitary groups as well as soldiers of the Venezuelan military.
The Bolivarian National Armed Forces of Venezuela (FANB) released a statement on Monday morning (April 26), relaying recent developments as the Escudo Bolivariano (Bolivarian Shield) 2021 operation continues.
The statement reads, “in the past 72 hours, bloody combats have been taking place with Colombian armed groups, specifically in unpopulated sectors west of La Victoria, Paez municipality of Apure state (..) we have inflicted an important number of casualties to the aforementioned groups, achieving the destruction of temporary facilities that they intended to use for their criminal activities; likewise, several individuals were captured who are providing valuable information for future actions.”
According to the communique, Venezuelan troops were also killed in battle while others were wounded and are currently receiving medical attention.
“We exalt the courage, honor and patriotic love of such distinguished soldiers, who offered and continue to risk their lives in defense of the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the nation,” reads the statement.
“It is imperative to remember that these criminal and terrorist organizations act with the support of the powerful financing structure of the Colombian oligarchy, which has the infamous purpose of exporting its narco-paramilitary model to our country, especially along the border axis, in order to create a diffuse territory that serves as a base to generate destabilization.”
“We reiterate our firm decision to consolidate an absolutely free Apure state, returning peace and tranquility to the inhabitants of the area. In this sense, by precise orders of citizen Nicolás Maduro Moros, Constitutional President of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, our Commander in Chief, we will continue and intensify military operations that will allow us to neutralize any stronghold of these criminals, whom we will fight relentlessly with all our moral and material strength until their total expulsion and definitive defeat” the FANB statement concludes.
Confrontations between the Venezuelan FANB and Colombian paramilitaries began on March 21, during which drug camps were destroyed and war equipment, explosives, vehicles and drugs were seized.
Defense Minister Vladimir Padrino Lopez and President Nicolas Maduro have stressed the collaboration of Colombia’s Ivan Duque, the far-right Washington-backed Venezuelan opposition and the Colombian armed groups they’ve been linked to.
Venezuelan officials have also underscored the seemingly deliberate failure of U.S. anti-drug policy in Colombia, which remains the world’s main producer and exporter of cocaine. Colombia, with extensive U.S. military and DEA presence, continues to be characterized by an absence of the state in several regions controlled by armed drug-trafficking groups. The result has been a situation of high levels of violence and insecurity affecting communities on both sides of the border.