Colombia Says Another Venezuelan Military Plane Violated Its Airspace | Independent Newspapers Limited
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Colombia Says Another Venezuelan Military Plane Violated Its Airspace

Posted: Sep 15, 2015 at 12:00 am   /   by   /   comments (0)

Another Venezuelan military airplane flew into Colombian airspace without permission on Sunday, the head of Colombia’s air force said, the second such incident over the weekend that threatens to further complicate relations between the two countries.

The Venezuelan aircraft crossed the border at eastern Vichada province and flew about 10 km (six miles) inside Colombian territory, air force General Carlos Bueno told reporters on Monday.

He said radar detected two planes, but only one crossed the border.

Colombia’s President Juan Manuel Santos has already ordered a formal protest and an explanation from Venezuela after two military airplanes were detected on Saturday in northern La Guajira province.

Those aircraft entered Colombia, flew about 2.9 km (1.8 miles) over the border and then circled above a military unit.

Both incidents come amid a diplomatic row between the conservative administration of Santos in Colombia and the socialist government of Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro.

Maduro closed several major border crossings and deported 1,400 Colombians last month in what he said was a crackdown on smuggling and crime.

As many as 18,000 Colombians have left neighboring Venezuela, according to government figures.

Venezuelan Foreign Minister Delcy Rodriguez said on Sunday there was no evidence of any violation of Colombian airspace.

“We’re concerned about the systemic tendency of the Colombian government to invent nonexistent incidents,” she wrote on Twitter.

Maduro says the border closures are aimed at protecting his country from criminals who smuggle everything from gasoline to flour into the neighboring country, but his political opponents say he is using Colombians as scapegoats to distract from Venezuela’s economic crisis.

Colombians were made to leave their homes in several Venezuelan border towns and forced in many cases to cross rivers and bridges with their belongings on their backs.

Santos has blamed the border crisis on Maduro and said last week that Venezuela’s socialist revolution had failed.