Venezuela closes border with Brazil, may do the same at Colombia border – Maduro

Starting Thursday evening, Venezuela is closing its border with Brazil, President Nicolas Maduro has announced. He added the same measure may apply to the border with Colombia, though he does not want to order it.

The Venezuelan military was ordered to enforce the travel ban in airspace and on the sea until further notice, Maduro said  during a televised address from a military headquarters.

Also on rt.com Venezuelan military rejects Trump threats, reiterates loyalty to Maduro...

Speaking about possible cut of border travel with Colombia, Maduro said he didn’t want to take such a decision but was considering it.

The restrictions come amid a tense stand-off over US attempts to deliver what Washington describes as humanitarian aid into Venezuela in defiance of the wishes of its government. The US considers Maduro usurper and recognizes as the head of state the self-proclaimed acting president Juan Guaido, whose opposition group is the designated receiver of the ‘aid’.

Also on rt.com Hands off ‘our hemisphere’ or Venezuela pays the price: US Senator warns Russia...

Earlier on Thursday Guaido said he will personally go to the border with Colombia to get the shipment from the US, urging drivers to go with him and defy the border guards ordered to prevent the delivery.

Maduro’s government is suspicious of the US stated plan to provide humanitarian assistance to Venezuelan opposition. US envoy for Venezuela Elliott Abrams has a record of using humanitarian convoys to smuggle arms to Latin American countries targeted for regime change by Washington, and Caracas says he is now trying to follow the same script in Venezuela.

BREAKING: and just disrupted Carlos Vecchio, illegitimate Venezuelan “president” Juan Guaido’s envoy to the US. The US is facilitating a coup that may very well lead to a civil war. We say: no coup, no civil war, no imperialism!

The confrontation over the shipment was also a major point of anti-Maduro media spin by Washington, which accused the Venezuelan president of barricading a border bridge only to stop aid from coming in. In reality the bridge was never operational, but the narrative was uncritically adopted by the US media.

Also on rt.com A bridge too far: US claims Venezuela blocked aid deliveries... at a crossing that was never open...

Both Brazil and Colombia serve as transit counties for Venezuela-bound American shipments. Sunday is the deadline given to Maduro by Guaido, presumably in coordination with the US, to allow the ‘humanitarian aid’ inside the country.

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US Senator Rubio Visits Colombia, Pushes Interventionist Agenda

Senator Marco Rubio does not have authority to demand actions from foreign governments, but does sit on key Senate foreign policy committees.

United States Senator Marco Rubio, visited the Colombia-Venezuela border Sunday, and made several comments against Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro.

RELATED Opposition's Servitude to Foreign Interests Attacked

The senator was part of a U.S. delegation visiting the Colombian border city of Cucuta, where humanitarian aid is being stockpiled for planned delivery to Venezuela.

In a televised interview, Rubio declined to say explicitly if he would support U.S. military intervention against Venezuela.

The U.S. has continually tried to send humanitarian aid to Venezuela via its allies in the Caribbean and in Colombia, but is attempting to import the items without state approval under the guise of a philanthropic gesture. Last week, both the International Red Cross and the Red Crescent refused to participate in the operation which tries to circumvent Venezuelan leadership.

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro has repeatedly stated that Venezuela requires no aid from the United States. It has, however, received some aid from other allies to offset the economic blockade being applied by the United States.

Last week, Cuba, China, Russia, Palestine, and Turkey all contributed to a shipment of over 930 tons of medical aid delivered to the Venezuelan port in Guaira.

The U.S. delegation included Carlos Trujillo, the U.S. ambassador to the Organization of American States, and Republican U.S. Representative Mario Diaz-Balart of Florida.

Rubio, a former presidential candidate, does not have the authority to call for specific actions but sits on the U.S. Senate’s Foreign Relations Subcommittee on Western Hemisphere, Transnational Crime, Civilian Security, Democracy, Human Rights and Global Women's Issues, which handles legislation related to Canada, Mexico and South and Central America.

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Moving Tribute in Colombia to Cuban Hero Jose Marti

Bogota, Jan 28 (Prensa Latina) Intellectuals, leaders politicians, cultural figures and a massive representation of the Colombian Movement of Solidarity with Cuba rendered a moving tribute to José Martí, on occasion of the 166th anniversary of his birth.

The evocation of the figure and trascendent legacy of the National Cuban Hero took place at the embassy of the island in Bogota, with the participation also of Cuban residents in this South American country, diplomats and workers of the Greater of the Antilles.

In name of the Colombian Movement of Solidarity with Cuba spoke Jorge Caceres, who highlighted the legacy of Marti in thought and action and extolled the significance of the Cuban Revolution for the peoples of Latin America and the world.

Jaime Caycedo, secretary general of the Communist Party of Colombia, stressed the infinite gratitude to the government and the Cuban people for their constribution to build peace in Colombia.

Jorge Rojas, leader of the movement Colombia Humana, reiterated the gratitude to the Caribbean nation and recalled that during the mayorship of former presidential candidate Gustavo Petro, an infant daycare was built named Jose Marti, guided by that beautiful Marti thought that 'children are born to be happy'.

Speakers at the event were also Jose Miguel Blanco, representative of the Association of Cuban Residents in Colombia, who referred to Marti's significance for Cuba;

Lina María Murcia, Colombian doctor graduated in ELAM faculty in Havana and Colombian intellectual Hector Arias

who stressed the ethic pillars of Marti's ideas and the need to return to Marti to find a way out of present problems in the world.

Artists from both nations performed and children placed a flower wreath before the bust of the Apostle in the Cuban diplomatic see and presented a much applauded review of Jose Marti's thoughts.

At the closing ceremony, Santiago Jaramillo, in the name of the Solidarity Movement, handed Cuban ambassador, Jose Luis Ponce, a banner illustrating a world map with Cuban flags in the numerous countries where solidarity aid from Cuba has been received.

The Cuban ambassador thanked the presence and love from all those present, concluding his words referring to the known chorus of the Singer-author of Argentina, Fito Paez, 'Who said that all is lost, Cuba comes to offer her heart'.

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Colombians Call on Duque's Gov't to Maintain Peace Process With ELN

The renewed uncertainty over the peace process between the Colombian government and the leftist ELN group comes after Thursday's car bomb attack on a police school that left 21 dead.

After the attack in Bogota that left 21 dead and 68 wounded, hundreds of Colombians are demanding that President Iván Duque not give up on the agreements for the cessation of violence with the National Liberation Army, or ELN, and insist on maintaining the dialogue table the leftist guerrilla group.

RELATED: Death Toll from Colombia Car Bomb Rises to 21: Police

Through Twitter, they used the hashtag #AdelantePorLaPaz (forward with peace) in which they expressed their desire for the end of the armed conflict in the South American country as well as lamenting the loss of lives in the attack.

"#AdelantePorLaPaz It is the only way to make Colombia a country where young people: cadets, peasants and students are not killed and silenced in the context of a conflict that the only thing that generates us is death and rupture of the social fabric," one user said in a tweet

"The government @IvanDuque believes that dialogue with the ELN, will not achieve peace, and instead wants to defeat it militarily. That was done 16 years ago with the Farc, and Uribe in eight years could not. Let's not wait for more four years of violence and death," another Colombian said through the social media website. 

The call for maintaining the peace process came shortly after the government of Ivan Duque officially accused the ELN of ordering the attack. The leftist group has yet to issue an official statement on the accusations, however, the group did issue a tweet from its official Twitter account rejecting reports of its responsibility yesterday on media outlets and by officials following the bombing.

The Colombian government and the ELN had initiated peace talks in February 2017 under a mandate by former President Juan Manuel Santos.

Those talks are currently in an evaluation phase. In a move that pushes peace talks further away, on Nov. 21 the Colombian government announced they won’t suspend the Interpol arrest order against Nicolas Rodriguez, known as Gabino, who was designated as the ELN's chief peace negotiator.

The county’s prolonged armed conflict has been ongoing since the 1960s. Between October 2017 and January 2018, the Colombian government and the ELN agreed on a bilateral ceasefire that lasted 101 days.

Since then, the militant organization ordered unilateral truces, in what they claimed was in an effort to prevent any impediment of the voting process during last year's elections.

Funded and sponsored by Catholic priests and rebels, ELN is currently the largest active guerrilla group in Colombia after the peace agreement and demoralization of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia.

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Car Bomb Explodes in Colombia Police Barracks, 5 Dead

Images published on social media networks showed the remains of a burning vehicle in the parking lot of the training center for officers of the National Police.

A car bomb exploded at a police academy in Colombia's capital Bogota on Thursday, killing at least eight people and wounding about 10, authorities said.

The bomb went off in the General Santander Police School in the south of the capital, Mayor Enrique Penalosa told reporters.

The Defense Ministry put the death toll at eight. Authorities did not immediately say if the dead and wounded were police or civilians.

Colombian President Ivan Duque said he was returning to the capital from the west of the country, where he had been attending a meeting on security and had ordered security forces to find the perpetrators and bring them to justice.

"All Colombians reject terrorism and are united to confront it," he said on Twitter. There was no word on who might be behind the explosion.

Images on social media showed the remains of a vehicle in flames in the parking area of the police school, and emergency responders at the scene.

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UN Stresses Concern over Assassinations of Social Leaders in Colombia

The representative of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights in Colombia, Alberto Brunori, has urged the Government of Ivan Duque to urgently take measures to halt the increasing number of assassinations of social leaders.

Brunori expressed concern over the rise of crimes against human rights defenders and land claimers in regions of Cauca department, southwestern Colombia.

In the first few days of 2019 there are many dead, most in Cauca, stressed the UN representative alluding to the killing of seven social leaders in the first week of the year.

The Italian political scientist hailed the Government's meeting last Friday in which the Plan of Timely Action was discussed. It envisions a strategy to counter social violence in Colombia. However, he stressed that urgent measures should be taken quickly to put up a system aimed at guaranteeing protection for social leaders.

According to the nation's Ombudsman Office, since the signing of the Peace Agreements two years ago, some 358 Colombian have been murdered for their political beliefs or for being linked to social demands.

Human rights organizations believe the figure is higher, tagging it at over 400, including nearly 100 former fighters of the former guerrilla Colombian Revolutionary Armed Forces- People's Army.

On Saturday, Colombia's Attorney General, Nestor Martinez, admitted for the first time there is a pattern of systematic killings of social leaders.

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Alarming Figures on Sexually Abused Children in Colombia

Bogota, Jan 4 (Prensa Latina) Child sexual abuse in Colombia has risen alarmingly in 2018 compared to the previous year, the National Institute of Legal Medicine reported.

Over 21,500 cases of sexually abused children were registered between January and November last year, up from the 20,663 in all 2017.

Colombian Legal Medicine revealed that 9,896 of the victims were 10 to 14 years old and 6,015 between five and nine.

To the dramatic picture of children abused in Colombia adds the aberration that the victimizers in half of the raped children cases were relatives (parents, stepfathers, uncles, cousins and grandparents).

During the final week of the year in Colombia, the rape and murder of two minors, a seven-year-old boy from Caldas and a 12-year-old girl from Meta, both territories in the country's Andean region, caused consternation.

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Venezuela Slams Pompeo, Duque Over Fake Claim US Helped Colombia Achieve Independence

Duque and Pompeo met for about 40 minutes at the Guest House in Cartagena, Colombia where they discussed interventionist efforts into Venezuela. 

The Venezuelan government condemned Thursday the position of Colombian President Ivan Duque, and U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, "whose governments intend to subjugate and violate the sovereignty and self-determination of the Venezuelan people."

RELATED: US: Mike Pompeo Starts Interventionist Latin American Tour

"It is a historical aberration the subordination of the current government of Colombia to U.S. interests, to the point of attempting to twist the heroic Bolivarian feat and instead thanking the United States for its supposed collaboration with the Colombian independence forces 200 years ago," Venezuelan Foreign Ministry said in a statement Thursday.

Duque and Pompeo met for about 40 minutes at the Guest House in Cartagena, Colombia, where the Colombian president expressed his gratitude for the assistance provided by the U.S. government for the "emancipation of Colombia," stating that "the support of the founding fathers of the United States was crucial to achieve our independence."

In the statement, the Venezuelan government indicated that "the anti-Venezuelan rhetoric that the Colombian president and the U.S. secretary have shown, clearly intends to distract the public attention from the resounding failure of the US anti-drug policy in Colombia, as well as the lamentable state of the peace process and the irrepressible violence in the neighboring country."

Colombia has seen a rise in paramilitary violence over the past few years following the peace agreement between the Colombian government of Juan Santos and the former leftist guerrilla FARC. The power vacuum created by the demonization of the FARC has led to more paramilitary violence that has claimed the lives of hundreds of social leaders in the country as well as the lives of former FARC militants.

Social movement and human rights organizations have repeatedly accused both the Santos and Duque governments of failing to curb the power of paramilitaries in the country and also dragging their feet on the total implementation of the peace process which includes protections for social leaders and former militants.

Far-right Duque himself has connections to paramilitary groups, and his mentor former President Alvaro Uribe has also been implicated in several cases that involve right-wing paramilitary violence.

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