Venezuela’s crisis is spilling across the border into Colombia as Marxist rebels and right-wing paramilitaries recruit migrants to strengthen their ranks, according to five Colombian military commanders.
Violence still simmers in Colombia despite a 2016 peace deal with leftist FARC rebels, meant to end five decades of conflict. Dissident FARC fighters, the rebel National Liberation Army (ELN), right-wing paramilitaries and drug-trafficking gangs are battling each other and the military.
Keen for recruits, these armed groups are targeting Venezuelans as they traverse the porous 2,219-km (1,380-mile)frontier at illegal border crossings, according to the military officials, human rights officials and migrants themselves.
Five military commanders told Reuters that as many as 30% of insurgents in Colombia’s eastern border region are Venezuelans, willing to take up arms in return for food and pay.