Caracas, April 20, 2022 (venezuelanalysis.com) – Argentine President Alberto Fernández announced his government’s decision to fully normalize relations with Venezuela leaving behind years of diplomatic tensions.
“We think that the time has come to talk about Venezuela and as a first step Argentina wants to recover full diplomatic ties [with Caracas],” said Fernández during a joint press conference with Ecuadorian President Guillermo Lasso in Buenos Aires on Monday.
The Argentine mandatary likewise called on all Latin American and Caribbean nations to review their relations with the Nicolás Maduro government in order to “help Venezuela recover its normal functioning as a country” and to advance regional integration.
“It is very difficult to think of a Latin America and the Caribbean that integrates if our diplomacy does not work smoothly. Unity must be achieved,” he declared. Fernández currently holds the pro tempore presidency of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC), an integration bloc created in 2011.
Fernández also praised the Maduro government's collaboration with the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Office as well as the country’s “progress in its electoral process,” regarding the November 2021 regional vote, which saw Venezuelan opposition sectors return to the electoral path after years of boycotts and attempts to take power by force.
For his part, Ecuadorian President Lasso welcomed his host’s call to reopen diplomatic contact with Caracas but said that his government would "analyze and evaluate” the issue. “We are not ready to make a decision yet,” he stressed.
Lasso added that Ecuador welcomed the recent meeting between US high-level officials and the Maduro government. “We believe these are sovereign actions and we will always favor dialogue.”
Diplomatic relations between Argentina and Venezuela became strained under the former right-wing President Mauricio Macri’s administration. The mogul and politician was among the regional leaders that founded the now-defunct Lima Group in August 2017, an ad-hoc organization of right-wing governments that sought to promote regime change in Venezuela.
Additionally, in early 2019 Macri recognized Venezuelan US-backed opposition leader Juan Guaidó as “Interim President” and supported a short-lived coup attempt in April. That same year, Argentina’s army allegedly contemplated the invasion of Venezuela, according to leaked documents revealed in a recent journalistic investigation.
Following Fernández’s electoral victory in late 2019, Argentina finally left the Lima Group in March 2021. Diplomatic relations with Caracas improved but never fully normalized.
Ecuador has likewise maintained strained ties with the Bolivarian government since 2018 when right-wing former president Lenín Moreno took power. The tense relations continued under far-right banker and politician Guillermo Lasso, elected in April 2021. The countries, however, have carried out communication at a consular level.
According to Venezuelan analyst Ociel Alí López, Argentina’s announcement to restore diplomatic relations with Venezuela generates a “positive expectation” for the Caribbean country’s future following years of forced isolation and attacks from regional right-wing governments.
“This is not automatic solidarity that could be easily dismantled by a succeeding [Argentinian] government [whether right or left wing],” López told Venezuelanalysis. He explained that while Fernández’s decision could have happened sooner it is important to consider that “unbridled actions on geopolitics matters are out of place.”
López added that Fernández’s call to normalize ties with Caracas holds more weight at the moment “because he is CELAC’s pro tempore president” and making the announcement in front of Ecuador’s right-wing Lasso “gives greater importance to the decision.”
In recent years, the Venezuelan government has begun re-establishing communication with a number of countries following leftist electoral victories in Mexico, Argentina, Peru, Honduras, and Chile. While contact and diplomacy have not been completely restored in all cases, the new leaders have drawn a line against the US regime change strategy that seeks to oust President Maduro by force.
Caracas’ tensest relations have been with its neighboring country Colombia led by right-wing President Iván Duque, Washington’s closest ally in the region. The nations broke ties in early 2019 after Bogotá aligned itself with US-backed Juan Guaidó's self-proclaimed “Interim Government.”
Furthermore, Venezuela’s diplomatic headquarters in Bogotá has been the object of a number of attacks. On Monday, the Foreign Affairs Ministry denounced a new vandalization act that caused a fire in its consular offices, calling it “a flagrant and repeated violation of the basic norms of diplomacy.”
“We demand due respect and protection of our diplomatic spaces which is a responsibility of the receiving country,” reads the communique. The Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of Our America – Peoples' Trade Treaty (ALBA-TCP) also rejected the attack on Venezuela’s sovereignty and blamed the Colombian government's complicit behavior.
Edited by Ricardo Vaz from Caracas.
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