Venezuela’s Maduro Taunts Colombian President After Navy Loses 3 Fully Armed Gunboats That Floated Unmanned To Venezuela
In an apparent act of extreme incompetence, the Colombian navy lost 3 fully armed gunboats Saturday, that floated unmanned into Venezuelan territory where they were captured by Venezuelan forces.
The incident took place on the Meta River in the remote southeastern Colombian department of Vichada where the river forms a border with Venezuela where the Colombian navy says the river current carried the boats away. The Evinrude equipped, US made Boston Whalers were equipped with 30 & 50 caliber machine guns. Boston Whaler is a respected manufacturer of small utility and fishing boats that are commercially available but adaptable for military and law-enforcement use.
“It is up to the President of Colombia to request the return of this military equipment to me. And if he did, it would be returned immediately,” said Nicolás Maduro, strongman of neighboring Venezuela, insisting that the Colombian president had to personally and publicly ask for the return of the boats in order to get them back.
The Colombian government generally uses such riparian vessels in anti-insurgency and drug interdiction efforts, as well as border patrol activities. Certain areas of the Venezuelan border are active areas in smuggling, human trafficking, and criminal activities including by militant groups such as the ELN.
This incident comes less than a week after apparent Canadian & American adventurers along with a team of Venezuelan exiles were captured in an apparent fantasy-induced attempt to land in Venezuela and capture Maduro, who has a $15 million US government bounty on his head. The adventurers launched their failed attempt from Colombia, embarrassing the Colombian government and prompting both Colombian President Ivan Duque and the US government to deny involvement.
The Colombian navy issued a statement confirming the loss of the boats.
According to the facts subject to investigation, three boats of the Colombian Navy that were in a fluvial control post moored on the banks of the Meta River in the department of Vichada on the Colombia Venezuela border, were unmanned and swept away at dawn today.
According to the preliminary version, this occurred when the sentry in charge of the boats’ security realized that due to the effects of the strong current, the boats were carried away by the river precluding any opportunity for recovery.
Units of the Eastern Force of the Colombian Navy were ordered to recover the boats, but given the proximity to Venezuela, the boats were carried by the river into Venezuelan territory, preventing the Colombian units from searching and rescuing them.
Taking into account the foregoing, the Eastern Naval Force proceeded to establish communications with the Venezuelan Naval post in Puerto Páez in order to ascertain the situation and coordinate the recovery of the boats; they expressed their support, informing they would locate and deliver the boats.