Relations between Venezuela and Colombia will be normalized with an immediate appointment of ambassadors and a reestablishment of diplomatic relations at all levels, as soon as President-elect Gustavo Petro takes office on August 7. The new government also hopes to resume peace talks with the ELN guerrillas, stalled since mid-2018, and promote economic reactivation on the border.
These commitments were advanced by the president-elect this Friday in a working meeting with ambassadors from Latin America and the Caribbean at the residence of the Chilean ambassador in Colombia.
“Undoubtedly the issue of peace is a neuralgic issue for the entire continent and points to complex problems such as drug trafficking, which has also become a multinational problem with a great outpouring of violence on the continent,” Petro said in a press conference. press offered after the meeting with the ambassadors.
Regarding the appointment of binational authorities such as the Colombian ambassador to Venezuela, the president-elect expressed that they are still considering the possibilities and that this is a responsibility of Álvaro Leyva, chosen by Petro to exercise the functions of Foreign Minister of the nation.
This Friday, Petro also participated for the first time in a meeting with the governors of Colombia, a meeting that was headed by the National Federation of Departments (FND) in which they discussed security, the productive apparatus, finances, land and borders.
There, the governor of the border department of Norte de Santander, Silvano Serrano, presented the future president in a document with the challenges and opportunities within the framework of what they have called the orderly and controlled opening of the border.
“The text includes the conclusions of the work tables held with all the productive, economic and social sectors of the region, with which it is expected to bet on economic reactivation, a safe border and with opportunities for all,” declared the governor. .
The president, for his part, stated that the activation of trade in the area is a priority “hopefully the cooperatives, the people dedicated to production, regardless of their economic power, get ready for the exchanges that should never have been suspended,” he said. Petro.
According to analyst Manuel Alejandro Rayrán, a professor at the Faculty of Finance, Government and International Relations at the Externado University of Colombia, progress in relations between the two countries is positive, mainly due to three factors: humanitarian, economic and security.
According to Rayrán, the closure of the common border meant that people had to opt for the use of illegal border crossings “where criminal groups mistreat the population” also becoming a propitious place for the “creation of illicit businesses such as trafficking of people”, aggravating the security situation in the area.
“Breaking relations, that there is no communication between the two governments clearly allowed illegal armed groups to have greater control in that area and strengthened them,” says the analyst.
The common border will be reopened just seven years after its closure was implemented, in August 2015, which meant millionaire economic losses for the two nations, mainly affecting merchants in the border area. Currently, the international bridges that connect Venezuela with Colombia are only allowed for pedestrians.
Resuming the peace talks with the ELN
Although the government has not yet positioned itself, the vice-presidency has been carrying out work to resume the peace talks that began in 2017 in Quito and continued in Cuba a year later, but were subsequently suspended.
The elected vice president, Francia Márquez, is touring various South American countries, including Chile, where on Thursday she met with President Gabriel Boric, who expressed his desire for the country to host possible talks with the ELN.
“We greet with great joy that today President Boric has expressed not only his willingness to accompany us in this task of achieving peace, but also offers his home, Chile, as the venue for peace talks between the Colombian State and the ELN,” Marquez said Thursday.
Petro assured this Friday that he intends to resume the protocol established for the talks “that allows the continuation of the ELN talks” in Havana, for which he called on the Government of Cuba to agree to receive the talks again and the Government of Norway to resume its role as guarantor.
The president-elect also reported that “Spain has expressed provisions around helping in the Colombian peace process,” as has Chile.
Petro will formally take office on August 7 and will become the first president who is not part of the political right in the country that had traditionally held power.
With information from EFE, Reuters and local media
Source: France 24