Map: Axios Visuals
Venezuela has launched an unexpected assault near its border with Colombia, presumably to attack armed groups and dissident guerrillas that push drugs and contraband in the area, but civilians have been forced to flee and some have reportedly been killed.
The big picture: The sudden military strikes in Apure state come after years of President Nicolás Maduro’s regime being hands-off in the border region
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Why it matters: Millions of Venezuelans have left their country in recent years due to unprecedented levels of hunger, hyperinflation and political uncertainty.
The Venezuelan armed forces, or FAES, have long been accused by international bodies of extrajudicial killings and arbitrary arrests. Now some in Apure state report that the Venezuelan soldiers are murdering farmers and passing them off as guerrilla fighters.
Venezuela Vice President Delcy Rodríguez recently claimed the actions against the armed groups are in response to supposed U.S. meddling. “Narcoterrorists are carrying out imperial plans,” he said.
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