Merida, June 21, 2018 (venezuelanalysis.com) – Colombian President-elect Ivan Duque has vowed to not send an ambassador to Caracas upon assuming the presidency, claiming not to recognise the Venezuelan government in heated statements less than two weeks after his electoral victory.
“We can’t accept having links with a government which we consider to be illegitimate,” declared the winner of the June 17 election. Duque obtained 54 percent of the vote amid a 53 percent participation.
The president-elect, who will take power on August 7, also characterized Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro as a “dictator,” alleging the existence of government-sponsored “drug trafficking structures.”
Similarly, Duque criticised Venezuela’s recent May 20 elections, which he considers to have been “openly manipulated.”
Venezuela’s May 20 presidential elections were declared free and fair by numerous international accompaniment missions who observed the process in the Caribbean nation.
By contrast, Colombia’s recent balloting has drawn significant criticism, with Colombia’s Immediate Reception for the Electoral Transparency Unit (URIEL) registering 1,239 complaints on the day of voting, 51 percent of which referred to “pressure and threats” to voters.
Duque is considered a hard-line politician of the right wing Democratic Centre center who is extremely close to party head and ex-Colombian President Alvaro Uribe, both in his rejection to the Colombian peace process and in the aggressive tone taken in relation to Caracas.
However, unlike Uribe, who stated days after his presidency was over that an invasion to Venezuela had been on the table, Duque has calmed concerns over a possible military encounter between NATO member Colombia and Venezuela, saying that he will not “assume a warlike attitude towards Venezuela.”
Nonetheless, the new Colombian president has threatened to denounce his Venezuelan counterpart at the UN Security Council. Duque has also promised to withdraw from regional body UNASUR for its “complicity” with Venezuela.
The tense relations between Colombia and Venezuela since 1999 have not stopped the abundant, migration between the two populations. It is estimated that more than five million Colombians entered Venezuela fleeing the civil war and government persecution. Likewise, recent data suggests that more than one million Venezuelans have crossed into Colombia in the past two years.