US Army South Commander Maj. Gen. Mark Stammer will soon arrive in Colombia, according to local broadcaster Caracol, which cited anonymous military sources.
During his visit, Stammer is in charge of strengthening cooperation with the allied countries and developing strategies in the region to face threats and improve security strategies.
The US Southern Command, of which Army South is a component, was established to conduct operations in Latin America. It is responsible for 31 states and 15 territories in Central and South America, and the Caribbean.
Colombian Defense Minister Guillermo Botero said that Stammer’s visit was pre-planned and that it is happening at the same time that US is pushing for a regime change in Venezuela is purely coincidental.
“It is a pure coincidence, it could have happened (the visit) a week before, or fifteen days later, it was scheduled for this date, there is nothing exceptional,” said the Minister.
A US Army EO-5C reconnaissance aircraft was spotted flying secret missions in Colombia, adding to suspicions that it might be spying on Venezuela.
— Steve Herman (@W7VOA) January 31, 2019
“The EO-5C spy plane is based on a Canadian DHC-7, a four-engine turboprop aircraft, suitable to carry some 50 passengers or a load of cargo. Aircraft of such type appear to usually lack any large military markings and overall look more like a regional airliner rather than a spy plane that one would expect to be packed with large and distinctive sensors.”
On January 31st, Reuters cited an anonymous senior Venezuelan official who claimed that the country will sell 15 tons of gold from central bank vaults to the United Arab Emirates in coming days in return for euros in cash.
According to the anonymous source, the sale of the gold reserves that back the bolivar currency began with a shipment on January 26 of 3 tons and follows the export last year of $900 million of mostly unrefined gold to Turkey.
Reuters also cited US-Proclaimed Interim President Juan Guaido, who said that he had sent communications to Russia and China to attempt to persuade them to back his side in the attempts to topple Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro.
Also on January 31st, the European Parliament recognized Juan Guaido as Venezuelan president after a vote that passed with 439 in favor and 104 against, with 88 abstentions.
Following the decision, the EP also urged the EU to follow suit and recognize Guaido as the president, instead of calling for new elections.
“MEPs urged EU Foreign Policy Chief Federica Mogherini and member states to also recognise Guaidó “as the only legitimate interim president of the country until new free, transparent and credible presidential elections can be called in order to restore democracy.”
MEPs condemn the fierce repression and violence, resulting in killings and casualties and demand the de facto Venezuelan authorities to halt all human rights violations, to hold those responsible for them to account, and to ensure that all fundamental freedoms and human rights are fully respected,” the EP statement read.