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Armed groups abuse civilians along Venezuela-Colombia border

EPA-EFE/SCHNEYDER MENDOZA
Venezuelan citizens cross a river into Colombia due to the closure of border crossings in Cucuta, Colombia, 06 March 2019.

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The rights group Human Rights Watch said that armed groups along the Venezuela-Colombia border subject civilians to killings, forced labor and extortion.
The group published a report that found Venezuelan forces allied with Colombian militias in the violence:
“Armed groups in Arauca and Apure also punish residents with forced labor, requiring them to work for free, sometimes for months, farming, cleaning roads, or cooking in the armed groups’ camps, which are often in Venezuela”, the report said.
Under the leadership of controversially re-elected president Nicolas Maduro, Venezuela has suffered an economic collapse and political crisis. Maduro has denied allegations that armed Colombian groups were tolerated by his forces. More than 4 million citizens have fled the country, many to Colombia.
“Residents of Arauca and Apure live in fear, as armed groups recruit their children and impose their own rules, threaten residents, and punish those who disobey”, the report added.
The guerilla groups that the report identified are Colombia’s National Liberation Army (ELN), dissidents from FARC (Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia), and Venezuela’s Patriotic Forces of National Liberation (FPLN).

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