Caracas (AFP) - Venezuela denied Thursday that it has violated the rights of deported Colombian immigrants, as police continued detaining undocumented workers in an intensifying crackdown.
Dozens of deported Colombians have complained in recent weeks of abusive treatment by the Venezuelan authorities, who have shipped nearly 2,000 people back to Colombia this year -- twice the number for the same period last year, according to the government in Bogota.
Deportees say they are deported without any legal process, subjected to humiliating treatment and sometimes separated from their families.
The Venezuelan foreign ministry said it "emphatically expresses its complete rejection of the manipulations by certain enemies of peace and good relations between the governments of Colombia and Venezuela who openly manipulate public opinion with falsehoods concerning the human rights of migrants."
There are some 5.5 million Colombians living in Venezuela, about 500,000 of them estimated to have arrived illegally since 2012.
Venezuela said Colombia, which remains in the grips of a five-decade guerrilla conflict despite ongoing peace talks, is facing "a humanitarian crisis that has generated an exodus unprecedented in our countries' history."
Venezuela, which is itself facing a deep recession, high inflation and severe shortages, meanwhile continued wide-ranging sweeps for illegal immigrants, checking IDs in working-class neighborhoods and detaining those without documents -- mostly women on their way to jobs as maids or street vendors.
On Wednesday the speaker of the National Assembly, Diosdado Cabello, a figure close to Socialist President Nicolas Maduro, said deported Colombians who have complained about their treatment are all "conspirators."
"Every deportation is linked to one or more crimes like smuggling contraband and conspiring to aggravate the economic war in this country," he told Colombian Foreign Minister Maria Angela Holguin during a TV appearance.
The Venezuelan government blames an "economic war" by wealthy elites backed by Colombia and the United States for the recession and shortages troubling the country.