*

upload_article_image

Colombia: 1,000 Venezuelan forces crossed border since Feb.

Colombian authorities say about 1,000 members of the Venezuelan security forces have fled to Colombia since last month, giving up weapons and uniforms as they abandon the government of Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro.

Colombia's foreign ministry on Monday released the updated number of Venezuelan police and military personnel who crossed the border, many around the time of a Feb. 23 attempt by opposition leader Juan Guaido to deliver U.S.-provided humanitarian aid to Venezuela. The attempt failed because Venezuelan forces blocked trucks trying to cross from Colombia into Venezuela.

Despite the desertions, Maduro has retained the support of Venezuela's key military leaders, who are considered pivotal in determining the outcome of the country's power struggle. Guaido says Maduro is an illegitimate leader, while Maduro says the U.S. is plotting a coup.

Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaido, who has declared himself interim president, speaks to the press after a meeting with coalition of opposition parties, and other civic groups in Caracas, Venezuela, Monday, March 18, 2019. After Guaido declared himself interim president in late Feb., Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro has remained in power despite heavy pressure from the United States and other countries arrayed against him, managing to retain the loyalty of most of his military leaders. (AP PhotoNatacha Pisarenko)

Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaido, who has declared himself interim president, poses for selfie photo with supporters after a meeting with "Frente Amplio," a coalition of opposition parties, and other civic groups in Caracas, Venezuela, Monday, March 18, 2019. After Guaido declared himself interim president in late Feb., Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro has remained in power despite heavy pressure from the United States and other countries arrayed against him, managing to retain the loyalty of most of his military leaders. (AP PhotoNatacha Pisarenko)