Venezuelan Defectors Fear For Families’ Safety

Author BReed
Collection StoriaNews
Venezuelan Defectors Fear For Families’ Safety

Venezuelan soldiers who defected into Colombia on Saturday say they fear for the safety of their families under President Nicolás Maduro's government.

One defector, 23, told BBC's Orla Guerin during an exclusive interview that he is worried that forces loyal to the president may "lash out against my family."

"But I think it was the best decision I could have made," he adds.

More than 100 soldiers are said to have defected, most during deadly clashes over aid deliveries on Saturday.

Tensions were high after President Maduro sent troops to block roads and bridges at the borders of neighbouring Brazil and Colombia, where food and medicine deliveries, organised by the US, were set to enter the country.

At various crossing points, Venezuelan security forces fired tear gas at volunteers and protesters burning outposts and throwing stones at soldiers and riot police.

After agreeing to speak with the BBC on condition of anonymity, a group of Venezuelan deserters based in a church in Cúcuta described what pushed them to leave President Maduro's armed forces.

"There are many professional troops who want to do this. This will be a domino effect. This will have significant influence on the armed forces," one 29-year-old man said.

"The armed forces have broken down because of so many corrupt officers.

"The professional military is tired. We cannot remain slaves, we are freeing ourselves," he added.

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