Colombia maintains support for Venezuelan deserters

BOGOTA (AFP) – Colombia will continue to provide support to nearly 1,000 deserters from the Venezuelan military in its territory, the foreign ministry said on Sunday – after several reports they were about to be evicted.

The support – food and shelter – will remain in place until the identification of “measures allowing for medium-term solutions,” the ministry said in a statement.

The announcement came a day after deserters in the border towns of Cucuta and Villa del Rosario told local media they feared eviction from shelters.

“They told us that we had three or four days to go and find somewhere to go, that they were going to give us a mattress, a bed sheet and COP350,000 (USD110),” a man who identified himself as sergeant Luis Gonzalez said.

The ambassador to Colombia appointed by opposition leader and self-declared interim president Juan Guaido has announced he is in talks to allow Venezuelan military deserters in Colombia the chance to pursue technical careers there.

Recognised by 50 countries led by the US, Guaido offered amnesty to members of the military who broke with the socialist government of President Nicolas Maduro, who is counting on military backing to maintain his power.