Maduro breaks relations with Colombia, expels its diplomats

Venezuela has severed relations with its neighbor Colombia and has expelled all diplomats from its embassy, President Nicolas Maduro has declared, during a rally in Caracas.

Maduro had earlier closed the border with Colombia in the run-up to Saturday’s attempts by the opposition to deliver trucks of ‘humanitarian aid’ from Colombia, in defiance of Caracas. A part of the border where a forced crossing might take place has been the scene of a tense confrontation between opposition activists and security forces all day.

Addressing a crowd of thousands of supporters, Maduro condemned his Colombian counterpart Ivan Duque for meddling in Venezuela’s internal affairs.

“Patience is exhausted, I can’t bear it anymore, we can’t keep putting up with Colombian territory being used for attacks against Venezuela. For that reason, I have decided to break all political and diplomatic relations with Colombia’s fascist government,” Maduro said, adding that the staff at the Colombian embassy has 24 hours to leave his country.

The Venezuelan government sees the attempted delivery as a publicity stunt meant to bolster the opposition and to potentially trigger a major uprising in the country. There are also fears that the convoy may be used to smuggle weapons to arm the opposition.