Venezuela offers Colombia landslide aid

April 8, 2017

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro offered on April 1 to send rescuers and other disaster relief experts to Colombia to help victims of a mudslide that has killed at least 154 people.

The mudslide, which overtook the small city of Mocoa in southern Colombia, left about 400 people injured and 220 missing. Mocoa was left in almost total ruin, as buildings, trees and infrastructure were toppled by muddy water and debris.

“We’re brotherly people who are there to be together and show respect for one another in trying times,” Maduro said. 

“All solidarity and love to the people of Colombia,” Maduro posted on Twitter, adding that Venezuela is “ready to provide the support that is necessary right now.”

Maduro’s offer to provide assistance comes a day after the Colombian government slammed Venezuela following a ruling from the country's top court that specified that it could assume some responsibilities of the National Assembly as long as the legislature continued to operate "in contempt" of the constitution.

The Supreme Court subsequently reversed this decision.

Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos decried the move as “unacceptable” and as an attack on “the most important pillar of any democracy.”

“What happened yesterday to remove all powers to the Legislative Assembly forces us to raise our voice of protest and solidarity with Venezuelan democracy that is clearly violated,” Santos said in a statement. 

Venezuela's Attorney General also slammed the court decision, prompting Maduro to convene a meeting of the National Defence Council, a mechanism in the constitution that combines various branches of the state to resolve urgent matters.

The Council urged the decision to be reviewed and the Venezuelan Supreme Court reversed its ruling Saturday morning.

The Colombian government has also collaborated with the Organisation of American States (OAS) in attempting to revoke Venezuela’s membership over alleged “human rights violations.”

Santos claimed he was “deeply concerned” about the political situation in Venezuela and supported calls for new elections. 

Despite these attacks from the Colombian government, Venezuela has committed to sending relief to its neighbour.

[Abridged from TeleSUR English.]

[This article appeared as part of the Australia-Venezuela Solidarity Network April 2017 broadsheet.]

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