Venezuela Congratulates Colombia on Historic Advance in Peace Talks

The Venezuelan government has officially congratulated the administration of Juan Manuel Santos in Colombia after an agreement was signed to bring an end to the country’s 60 year long civil war. 

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Colombian President Manuel Santos shakes hands with FARC leader Timochenko in Havana on Wednesday (Justice for Colombia).
Colombian President Manuel Santos shakes hands with FARC leader Timochenko in Havana on Wednesday (Justice for Colombia).
By Rachael Boothroyd Rojas
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Caracas, September 24th 2015 (venezuelanalysis.com) - The Venezuelan government has officially congratulated the administration of Juan Manuel Santos in Colombia after an agreement was signed that looks set to bring an end to the country’s 60 year long civil war.

“The Agreement for the Establishment of the Special Jurisdiction for Peace” was signed by Colombian President Santos and the commander of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) Timochenko in Havana on Wednesday.  

In a globally circulated photograph, both men shook hands on the text, which commits both sides to signing a final peace agreement before March 23rd 2016. 

It is the most significant act to have emerged from the peace negotiations which have been officially ongoing in Havana since November 2012 and was hailed as a landmark step for the region by Venezuela’s foreign ministry in a communique issued on Thursday.  

“For the national government and the Venezuelan people, peace in Colombia is peace for Venezuela,” reads the press release.

The message goes on to highlight the vital role played in the peace process by former Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez, as well as by Cuba’s socialist government in Havana. 

Just last month, UN Resident Humanitarian Coordinator in Colombia, Fabrizio Hochschild, highlighted that Venezuela “had been a very important actor in the process of achieving peace in Colombia” and applauded the country’s “discreet” role, which included sending an official representative to accompany the peace talks throughout their trajectory. 

Nonetheless, the congratulatory message from the Caracas comes on the heels of a period of relative tension between the two countries following a diplomatic altercation relating to the policing of Venezuela-Colombia border regions - four of which have been closed over the past six weeks by the Venezuelan government. 

The heightened tensions led some political observers to speculate in recent weeks that the peace talks could be put at risk if Caracas were to withdraw support. However, these fears were allayed by a meeting between Santos and Maduro in Quito on September 21st in which the heads of state agreed to normalise diplomatic relations. 

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro also went on to confirm Thursday that he had personally congratulated his Colombian counterpart during a telephone call. 

“I told him that he can count on me as a President of the Republic who is just as committed as Commander Chavez, who gave everything so there could be peace in Colombia,” he explained.

The head of state also announced that he would decree a national holiday in Venezuela on the day that peace is finally announced in Colombia.