Philadelphia, June 24, 2015 (venezuelanalysis.com) - Venezuela called for the convocation of a bilateral commission Tuesday to diplomatically resolve a maritime territorial dispute with Colombia.
The announcement follows an official note of complaint issued by the Colombian Foreign Ministry on Friday, protesting a recent Venezuelan decree designating the strategic maritime strip located at the entrance to oil-rich Lake Maracaibo an “operative zone of integral maritime and insular defense”.
The Venezuelan Foreign Ministry responded with a press release yesterday, rejecting the “anti-Venezuelan hate campaign promoted from Bogota by local oligarchic factors” but holding open the possibility of a diplomatic resolution.
“Venezuela is willing to duly address the pending delimitation [of borders] with Colombia.”
Colombian President Juan Manual Santos accepted the Venezuelan proposal to convene a bilateral commission to resolve the dispute, but reiterated his government’s request for an official response to the Colombian protest over the decree emitted by Caracas.
“In order for this commission to convene and meet, we require a response from the Venezuelan government to the formal complaint that we issued on Friday.”
Venezuela nevertheless maintains that decree is intended to shore up its territorial defense, stressing its commitment to strengthening the “bonds of friendship and union between the two republics”.
The territorial dispute stretches back various decades and came close to setting off a military confrontation in 1987 when a Venezuelan warship surprised a Colombian navy corvette in disputed waters.
In 1990, Caracas and Bogota created a Presidential Negotiation Commission to delimit maritime border areas; however, the body has not convened since 2007.