Setting the Stage for an Encounter at the Colombia-Venezuela Border

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On February 23, The U.S. and Colombian governments together tried to push humanitarian supplies from the Colombian border city Cúcuta into Venezuela. The humanitarian aid was a Trojan horse that, in theory, would confront Venezuelan security forces with a dilemma. These would supposedly step aside or desert. A take-down of Venezuela’s socialist government would follow. But the soldiers, police, and people’s militia remained loyal to the emancipating legacy of President Hugo Chávez. They blocked the trucks and the façade shattered.

Fire consumed a truck heading for the border. The rubble contained aid material but also whistles, gas masks, steel cables, spikes, and wires. Anti-government rioters in Venezuelan streets would go without.   

Colombia is a U.S. proxy warrior. It’s a partnership prepared over the course of decades, one that is dangerous for the neighborhood and central to U.S. pretensions in the region. An understanding of why the alliance is strong and how it persists may shed light on the context of the Cúcuta incident and on what’s to come.

The flow of money is one aspect. According to a report, “The United States is Colombia’s largest trading partner” and “U.S. exports to Colombia in 2017 [were] valued at USD 13.3 billion.” U.S. direct investment of $2.2 billion exceeded that of all other countries in 2017. The U.S. ultra-rich have soul mates in Colombia. Millionaires there numbered 21,900 in 2007, 35,900 in…

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