NewsAfter three years, Venezuela and Colombia resume their diplomatic...

After three years, Venezuela and Colombia resume their diplomatic relations

CARACAS- Venezuela and Colombia formally resume their diplomatic relations this Monday, after the ambassadors designated by the Colombian president, Gustavo Petro, and his Venezuelan counterpart, Nicolás Maduro, arrived in Caracas and Bogotá this Sunday, after three years of rupture.

“Relations with Venezuela should never have been broken, we are brothers and an imaginary line cannot separate us, much less a public policy of the State as happened with President (Iván) Duque,” the Colombian ambassador, former senator Armando, said on Twitter. Benedetti, before his trip.

“Tomorrow (Monday), once I present my credentials to the Foreign Ministry and President Maduro, relations between Venezuela and Colombia will be restored,” he later told the press after landing at the Maiquetía airport, which serves Caracas.

Benedetti was received in Venezuela by the Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs, Rander Peña Ramírez.

“On behalf of President Nicolás Maduro, we welcomed Armando Benedetti to the country (…), our historical ties call us to work together for the happiness of our peoples. Welcome!” Peña celebrated in a tweet with photographs of the meeting.

Plasencia was Foreign Minister of Venezuela between August 2021 and May 2022 and Ambassador to China between 2019 and 2021.

“We arrived in the Republic of Colombia, to present the credentials to the Government of this nation, we are eager to advance in peace diplomacy,” said the new Venezuelan ambassador, former Foreign Minister Félix Plascencia, after arriving in Bogotá .

After the coming to power of the leftist Petro in Colombia, the new Colombian president and Maduro expressed their willingness to “normalize” the broken diplomatic relations in 2019. On August 11, they announced the names of their ambassadors.

Benedetti, 54, was one of the first traditional politicians to join Petro’s presidential candidacy, having reached the Senate in 2006 as part of a party founded by former President Álvaro Uribe.

Félix Plasencia, meanwhile, was Maduro’s foreign minister from August 2021 to May 2022. He had been Venezuela’s ambassador to China between 2019 and 2021.

Trade and border reopening on the agenda

Venezuela broke bilateral relations with Colombia in 2019, at the height of a relationship plagued by tensions in two decades of Chavismo governments.

A previous restoration was impossible since the outgoing government of Duque did not recognize Maduro as president, but the opposition leader Juan Guaidó, considering the re-election of the socialist president to be fraudulent. The break in relations came precisely because of the former president’s decision to support Guaidó.

With the normalization of relations, both countries hope to revive the commercial exchange, which was close to 7.2 billion dollars in 2008, but collapsed with the partial closure of the border in 2015 and total in 2019.

The passage of cargo vehicles has been restricted since 2015, after Maduro denounced an ambush by armed groups on a Venezuelan military patrol in the state of Táchira (west), where the most important crossing between the two countries is located.

And it was completely blocked in 2019, amid riots, with Guaidó’s failed attempt to pass food and medical supplies sent by the United States, in what the Venezuelan government described as the first step to “an invasion.”

The Colombian-Venezuelan Chamber manages projections of commercial exchanges of 800 million to 1,200 million dollars in 2022, after last year the figure was around 400 million.

The reopening of the border crossings, currently limited to pedestrian crossings, is imminent, although there is not yet a defined date for it.

The migration issue is crucial, as thousands of people cross the border every day. Colombia hosts two of the six million Venezuelans who have migrated due to the crisis in their country, who received permits to work and access public services.

Venezuela and Colombia share a 2,200 km border, punished by evils such as the presence of irregular armed groups and smuggling.

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