Colombia Peace Accords Set Stage for Meeting Between Maduro and Kerry

The two held their first meeting in Cartagena after the official ceremony honoring the historic signing of the Colombian Peace Accords between the Santos government and the FARC.


President Nicolás Maduro (center left) and US Secretary of State John Kerry (center right) met in Cartagena, Colombia Monday after the historic signing of the Colombian Peace Accords (AP).
President Nicolás Maduro (center left) and US Secretary of State John Kerry (center right) met in Cartagena, Colombia Monday after the historic signing of the Colombian Peace Accords (AP).
By Jeanette Charles
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Caracas, September 27th 2016 ( - After the historic signing of the Colombia Peace Accords Monday in Cartagena, Colombia, Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro and US Secretary of State John Kerry held their first face to face meeting since Kerry assumed the top level position. In recent days, the Bolivarian government has denounced US official comments pressuring for a recall referendum to take place this year.

Despite historical tensions between the United States and Venezuela, Foreign Minister Delcy Rodríguez confirmed that the meeting between Maduro and Kerry was “respectful”. AFP characterized the meeting as “brief but cordial”.  

Rodríguez also assured bilateral discussions will continue with the current Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs, Thomas Shannon.

State Department Spokesman John Kirby relayed that among other issues raised, "(Kerry) spoke of our concern about the economic and political challenges that have affected millions of Venezuelans, and he urged President Maduro to work constructively with opposition leaders to address these challenges."

"Everybody knows we're working toward this recall. It's been delayed. That is problematic," Kerry said ahead of Monday’s meeting. "And we need to find a way forward that can provide a consensus that provides relief to a nation under siege."

Veneuelza's National Electoral Council (CNE) announced last week that the opposition will have an opportunity to collect signatures from 20 percent of the national electorate on October 26, 27 and 28 to move forward with the recall referendum process. However, the CNE confirmed that a recall referendum, should it take place, would occur after January 10, 2017.

In response to the ongoing opposition demand for a recall referendum, the Democratic Unity Roundtable (MUD) called for national protests on October 12 in addition to encouraging their supporters to present their signatures on October 26-28.

In an official statement, the MUD refers to the signature collection campaign as “The Takeover of Venezuela” similar to September 1 marches that hinted at potential outbreaks of violence in Caracas and across the country in opposition strongholds.

Likewise, the United Venezuelan  Socialist Party (PSUV) convened marches in favor of peace and in support of the Bolivarian process in the coming days.

Jorge Rodríguez, Mayor of Caracas and the head of the PSUV Signature Verification Commission for the referendum process, said at a press conference “There is no way a recall referendum will happen in 2016, and it is very improbable in 2017. There are right-wing opposition spokespeople who insist that there will be a referendum in 2016. This is one of the opposition’s lies, it is a deceitful offer.”

Colombian Peace Accords Signed

The Colombian Peace Accord signing, which set the stage for Maduro and Kerry’s first discussion, mark an official end to 52 years of armed conflict in Colombia. The Bolivarian government has long accompanied the process which resulted this week in the Santos’ administration and the FARC agreeing to a consortium of issues set to go to a plebiscite Sunday, October 2.

Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos and Rodrigo Londono (Timochenko), guerrilla leader and representative for the FARC, signed the accords Monday. The ceremony took place in Cartagena, Colombia.

International leaders such as Bolivian President Evo Morales, Cuban President Raul Castro, as well as United Nations General Secretary Ban Ki Moon among others attended the event. Colombians from across the country gathered to celebrate the historic achievement.

Colombian Senator Iván Cepeda for the Democratic Pole publicly expressed his appreciation for Venezuelan efforts in the Peace Process. Specifically, Cepeda recognized the role former President Hugo Chávez had in paving the way for the accord.

“There was so much work, the majority silently, but without a doubt Commander Chávez in his time succeeded in reviving hope when it seemed impossible,” highlighted Cepeda. The senator also emphasized that during Álvaro Uribe’s time as president of Colombia, peace seemed unattainable.

Likewise, Cepeda remarked that Maduro’s consistent role as a facilitator in the talks has been critical, especially during the final stages of peace negotiations.