3 Colombian consular employees leave Venezuela by foot

San Antonio: Three consular employees of the Colombian diplomatic mission along with their families left Venezuela on Sunday, crossing the border by foot, a Sputnik correspondent has reported.

The diplomats, accompanied by Venezuelan police, crossed the border in the settlement of San Antonio.

On Saturday, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro severed diplomatic relations with Colombia, accusing the latter of using its territory for “attacks against Venezuela,” and ordered Colombian diplomats out in 24 hours.

The decision came amid attempts of the Venezuelan opposition led by self-proclaimed interim president Juan Guaido to force US-sponsored humanitarian aid into the country, including through Colombia hosting an aid collection centre.

Before the rupture of diplomatic relations, Colombia had a functioning embassy in Caracas and 15 consulates in main Venezuelan cities.

Freddy Bernal, appointed by the central authorities as the so-called protector of the Tachira state, said that Colombia “forced” Venezuela to expel diplomats.

“The diplomatic personnel of Colombia were ordered to leave for Bogota. We regret that we were forced to make this decision, but the country cannot tolerate such aggression, so many lies, cannot tolerate that another country has become a military base for an invasion of Venezuela,” said Bernal.

According to Bernal, Venezuela is the target of aggression and a coup plot led by the United States, with criminal gangs from Colombia being at the forefront of these efforts.

Amid growing crisis around Venezuela-bound aid deliveries, the Colombian Defense Ministry, in a comment to Sputnik on Saturday, denied that US forces were moving across its country in the run-up to the deliveries.