Back on February 22, Juan Guaido, the Trump administration’s front man for regime change in Venezuela, somehow crossed the border into Colombia to appear at “Live Aid Venezuela,” a concert organized by Richard Branson.
“It’s not clear how Guaido sneaked into Colombia — in one video circulating on social media he appears running across a bridge near the Colombian town of Puerto Santander, while in another he could be seen boarding a helicopter belonging to the Colombian air force,” the AP reported at the time. “The presidents of Colombia, Chile and Paraguay were on hand to be the first foreign heads of state to embrace the 35-year-old lawmaker since he declared himself interim president a month ago.”
Things haven’t been going well for the regime change operation since then and yesterday there was more bad news. The Colombian newspaper El Espectador published a story that said Guaido apparently crossed the border with the help of members of Los Rastrojos, a paramilitary and drug trafficking outfit. The information originally came from Wilfredo Cañizales, head of a Colombian human rights group, and he provided pictures as well.
The two men pictured with Guaido are allegedly leaders of Los Rastrojos nicknamed El Brother y el Menor. El Espectador said Colombian authorities confirmed the two men’s identities and said both are now detained.
Guaido claims he took a lot of selfies that day and didn’t know everyone he was posing with. But you’d think he’d remember who escorted him across the border to get to such an important event.
The story is all over the Latin American media and The Guardian published a follow up today. It described Los Rastrojos as “a drug-trafficking group with paramilitary origins who operate on both sides of the Colombia-Venezuela border. As well as the cocaine trade, they are engaged in illegal mining, kidnapping for ransom and extortion.” Cañizales hasn’t said how he got the pix but told the newspaper that Los Rastrojos had imposed a curfew along the border before Guaido crossed into Colombia “to make sure no locals would take photos of him crossing illegally through the hidden paths.”
“Regardless of whether this was as innocent as they claim – which is rather hard to believe – or whether there was something more to it, it looks so bad,” Phil Gunson of Crisis Group told The Guardian. He said Guaidó’s claim that he had no idea who he was posing with to be “frankly not credible.”
So far, the story of Los Rastrojo apparently helping Guaido cross into Colombia hasn’t gotten any pickup in the U.S. media.