Venezuela forms immigration police to strengthen border controls
The government of President Nicolas Maduro said Friday it has created a new police force to strengthen border controls, at a time that thousands of people are fleeing Venezuela's spiraling economic and political crisis.
Vice President Delcy Rodriguez announced on state TV that the new Migration Police -- which will take control of the country's 72 entry and exit points at ports, airports and border crossings -- was starting "immediately."
It will reinforce "the existing controls" as a specialized force, she said, making special reference to neighboring Colombia.
Rodriguez said that Venezuela is a "victim" of a Colombian "campaign of falsehoods to justify something that will never happen: an international intervention."
The Venezuelan government claims that eight million Colombians displaced by decades of internal warfare are living in their country. Colombian officials say the true figure is around 900,000.
According to United Nations figures, 1.9 million Venezuelans have fled the country since 2015.
The collapse of Venezuela's oil-based economy under the increasingly authoritarian Maduro has led to dire shortages of food and medicine.
Maduro however denies any migration crisis, and has asked the UN to be "more sincere" in its figures. He also says there is no humanitarian crisis in Venezuela due to a chronic lack of food and medicine.
The new police force will help monitor migration "so that the truth will come out and not the imperial lies that from Washington want to be sold to the world," Rodriguez said.
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