Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos on Thursday accused his Venezuelan counterpart, Nicolas Maduro, of paying Colombian citizens to obtain voter ID cards in the neighboring country and vote in the national election this weekend, in which Maduro is running for re-election.
"From trustworthy intelligence sources, we have knowledge of a plan by the Maduro regime, under way since the end of last year, to register and transport Colombian citizens to vote next Sunday, May 20," said Santos in a statement.
The Colombian leader also said that the plan sets forth "the method, the procedures and the payments to be made to guarantee the movement of voters and their votes in favor of Maduro."
Venezuelans will go to the polls on Sunday with Maduro seeking re-election in an election whose legitimacy has been questioned by a large portion of the international community, not to mention the local opposition.
Santos said that "maneuvers like this," - along with "a great many other reasons" - led him to reiterate that Colombia will not recognize the results of the "illegitimate" elections convened by Venezuela's all-powerful Constituent National Assembly.
Given this situation, the Colombian leader emphasized that he had given instructions to security forces to "redouble the border controls" and thus prevent "to the maximum" the "illegal (transport) of voters."
Santos referred to the Venezuelan election in a statement from the Casa de Nariño in which he also said that the Maduro government was distributing to that country's citizens food in poor condition and goods smuggled by the local CLAP supply and production committees.