Venezuela says it has proof of anti-Maduro plot in Colombia

CARACAS, Venezuela (AP) — The Venezuelan government presented evidence Saturday of what it called paramilitary training camps in neighboring Colombia to plot violent attacks to undermine President Nicolás Maduro.

Communications Minister Jorge Rodríguez appeared on state television to accuse Colombian President Iván Duque of doing nothing to stop the aggression against Venezuela — or even supporting it.

Rodríguez showed satellite images and coordinates that he said prove the existence of three paramilitary camps along the border inside Colombia. They are used to train 200 armed men, he said, at times directly addressing Duque.

“If you brought this kind of evidence to Venezuela, we would act immediately,” Rodríguez said. “We are sure you won’t do anything, because you are complicit with these terrorists.”

There was no immediate reaction from Duque.

The accusation comes amid mounting tensions between the two South American nations as Colombia’s government backs a campaign by Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaidó to oust Maduro’s socialist government.

The tensions spiked Thursday when the former chief negotiator for the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia announced in a video that he would take up arms, alleging the Colombian government has failed to uphold a 2016 peace accord and accusing it of standing by as hundreds of social leaders have been slain in rural areas where the rebels long dominated.

Duque, who quickly reached out to Guaidó, has accused Venezuela’s government of harboring Colombian guerrillas. For both leaders, the video was further proof that the rebels — designated by the U.S. a terrorist group — are plotting attacks from Venezuelan soil.

“We’re not witnessing the birth of a new guerrilla army, but rather the criminal threats of a band of narco-terrorists who have the protection and support of Nicolás Maduro’s dictatorship,” Duque said in a televised address.

In his appearance Saturday, Rodríguez also said Venezuelan security forces thwarted a terrorist plot to detonate explosions targeting the headquarters of two FAES special police units and the Palace of Justice. All three locations are in densely populated Caracas.

“Does this seem normal to assassinate civilians?” Rodriguez said, again addressing Duque. “It seems normal to you even if there were thousands of dead we would be counting right now.”

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