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Colombia Santos beefs up troops on Venezuela border

The Colombian President blames Nicolas Maduro for a supposed influx of refugees

COLOMBIAN President Juan Manuel Santos announced that more than 2,000 extra troops are to patrol his country’s border with Venezuela, supposedly because a refugee influx is looming.

Speaking in the border city of Cucuta, he said consumer shortages in the neighbouring country — which Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro blames on US-directed economic warfare — were prompting a stream of illegal immigrants.

“Colombia has never experienced a situation like the one we are encountering today,” Mr Santos said.

“This is a tragedy,” he claimed. “And I want to reiterate to President Maduro: this is the result of your policies.”

Around five million refugees from Colombia’s 55-year dirty war against communist guerillas are currently being sheltered by Venezuela, whose own population is about 25 million.

By contrast, an estimated 300,000 Venezuelans are in Colombia.

Mr Maduro closed the border in December 2016 after troops patrolling it were fired on by Colombian smugglers, who buy heavily subsidised Venezuelan food and fuel to sell in their home country.

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