BOGOTA (Reuters) – Colombia’s foreign ministry said on Monday it sent a letter of protest to Venezuela after soldiers from that country’s army crossed into Colombian territory last week and detained three Colombian citizens.
Venezuelan soldiers on Thursday crossed to an island in the Orinoco River that has been part of Colombia since 1931, Bogota’s foreign ministry said in a statement. It also conducted an investigation to verify that the incident took place, the ministry said.
“There was a violation of national territory,” it said. “In the name of the Colombian government the Ministry of Foreign Relations has sent a letter of protest complaining of the repetition of these kind of actions, which violate national sovereignty, and the arbitrary detention of three Colombian citizens.”
The Venezuelan government did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Colombia is a top destination for Venezuelans fleeing food and medicine shortages amidst their country’s deep economic crisis.
Unauthorized crossings by Venezuelan military personnel along the neighbouring countries’ porous border occur fairly regularly.
Colombia last month said soldiers and helicopters from Venezuela’s Bolivarian National Guard had entered the country without permission, in a “violation to Colombia’s sovereignty.”
(Reporting by Julia Symmes Cobb; editing by Helen Murphy and G Crosse)