Caracas, November 1, 2022 (venezuelanalysis.com) – Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro received his Colombian counterpart Gustavo Petro Tuesday in Caracas to discuss recently renewed bilateral relations and the situation in the countries’ shared border.
Petro was welcomed at the “Simón Bolívar” International Airport (La Guaira state, near Caracas) by Venezuelan Vice President Delcy Rodríguez before heading to the Miraflores presidential palace to meet Maduro in an honor ceremony.
Following a closed-door encounter, the mandataries issued a joint statement and gave a press conference where they informed about a number of issues “to work on from now on” as they aim to expand diplomatic and economic relations, explained the Venezuelan president.
Maduro went on to detail that the two leaders agreed to prioritize “border security and the fight against drug trafficking” as well as energy, trade and economic relations, the return of Venezuela to the Andean Community of Nations (CAN), and strengthening the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC) for regional integration.
“We have had a fruitful day with President Gustavo Petro and his delegation. We discussed various issues concerning bilateral cooperation between Colombia and Venezuela, two countries that have a common destiny. This is good news for both our people,” stated President Maduro.
Regarding Colombia’s petition for Venezuela to re-enter the Inter-American Human Rights system, which is part of the Organization of American States (OAS), Maduro said he was “receptive” to the proposal and would analyze the issue further. Venezuela left OAS in April 2019 after accusing the Washington DC-based organization of repeated acts of aggression against the country’s sovereignty.
“We will surely be moving forward – from 2023 onwards – into integration and strengthening relations between our peoples, our governments and our two countries,” he stressed.
For his part, Petro recalled the countries’ historical ties and called for a union that transcends political differences. “It is unnatural for Colombia and Venezuela to be separated. It once happened, at a bad time, and it should not happen again because we are the same people […] No matter what political forms are adopted in either nation, friendship must prevail.”
Petro emphasized that both governments still had “a long way to go” when it came to reconstructing bilateral relations. “That [process] begins with rebuilding our border, which was left in the hands of mafias, crime, and drug trafficking.”
The Colombian president explained that normalization in the border will include attending to the migrant population from both nations, establishing stronger commercial ties as well as tackling fertilizer shortages through Colombia-based Venezuelan agrochemical producer Monómeros and its parent company, Venezuela’s state-owned Pequiven. Monómeros was recently returned to Caracas after years of mismanagement under opposition control.
Petro likewise proposed to establish a Latin American and Caribbean “common position” on climate change issues ahead of the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP27) to be held between November 6-18 in Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt.
He specifically called to recover and protect the Amazon by stopping capitalism’s destructive nature. “This is a common effort pertaining to all the countries that are responsible for the Amazon rainforest. We must help each other and we hope that Brazil joins the fight that must be for humanity.”
The Petro-Maduro summit was the first between the two heads of state since fully restoring diplomatic relations in August leaving behind years of broke-off ties. Soon after, Petro and Maduro reopened the main crossing in the countries’ 2,200-kilometer shared border to normalize trade and work together to tackle criminal smuggling and violence from irregular armed groups.
In early October, Caracas hosted a ceremony for the resumption of peace talks between the Colombian government and the National Liberation Army (ELN) guerrilla group. Caracas will serve as a peace guarantor alongside Cuba and Norway.
Petro and Maduro have stated that healthy diplomatic relations are necessary in order to guarantee both countries’ economic recovery and achieve peace at the border region. Airlines have also renewed direct flights between the neighboring nations.
The Venezuelan government broke off ties with Colombia and closed the border in early 2019 after former president Iván Duque joined Washington’s regime change efforts in recognizing Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaidó as the self-declared “interim president”. Bogotá later sponsored efforts to violate Venezuelan borders under the guise of delivering “humanitarian aid.”
Edited by Ricardo Vaz in Caracas.