Caracas, January 21, 2005—The Venezuelan National Assembly put aside partisan differences yesterday, approving by an overwhelming majority a resolution which condemns and repudiates the violation of Venezuelan sovereignty by Colombia and exhorts the Uribe administration to respect international law.
|National Assembly members applaud as the joint opposition-pro-government resolution is passed.|
Opposition National Assembly deputy Julio Montoya (MAS) affirmed that the actions committed by the Colombian government were immoral and violated international law. "This is not about arguing the ethics behind the matter, but we can not apply the law of the jungle," he noted, implying that the Granda case is only the tip of the iceberg that could seriously affect bi-lateral relations between the two countries.
The resolution establishes six points, the first of which is a complete rejection of the violation of Venezuelan national sovereignty. It urges the Uribe administration to acknowledge that mutual respect and consideration is the only way "to maintain solid relations of brotherhood between both countries."
It also condemns the participation of the Venezuelan police, considering that they betrayed their mission of safeguarding and defending the integrity of their nation and insists that the investigation into the kidnapping of Granda continue.
Finally, the resolution ratifies the love and solidarity of the Venezuelan people for the Colombian nation and its people, inviting the two countries to unite forces in order to construct the dream of Latin American independence hero Simon Bolívar.
Venezuela and Colombia have been at odds since Venezuelan authorities confirmed that Colombian President Alvaro Uribe and his administration bribed members of Venezuela's National Guard and Investigative Police (CICPC) to kidnap Rodrigo Granda, the "foreign minister" of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), in Caracas and to smuggle him across the Venezuela-Colombian border to the Colombian state of Cúcuta.
Since then, the diplomatic scuffle has escalated daily, as the Venezuelan ambassador to Colombia was recalled for "consulation", official relations between the two countries were suspended by Venezuela, and Chávez received stiff accusations by Uribe of harboring FARC guerrillas.
During the nearly 5 hour long session of the National Assembly, the leaders of different blocks and political parties spoke in hopes of arriving at a unanimous approval of the resolution. In spite of their efforts, though, a handful of parties from the opposition, including Acción Democrática (AD), Primero Justicia (PJ) and Proyecto Venezuela (PV) did not ratify the resolution.
Although Cilia Flores, a deputy of the pro-government coalition in the National Assembly, recognized the participation and good will of some of the factions of the opposition had acted in the best interest of the nation, she denounced that AD, PJ, and PV, as well as a handful of other minority parties, succumbed to external pressure and failed to reject the violation of Venezuelan sovereignty.
According to Flores, this is very grave, and she considers that it provides evidence for the lack of nationalism of these organizations. "Pimero Justice had made proposals for the resolution, but at the last minute, after receiving some telephone calls, they left the session."
The president of the National Assembly, Nicolás Maduro, later alleged that these calls were made in English, alluding to foreign interference.
Deputy José Luis Farías (Solidaridad) noted that the National Assembly is prepared to defend the sovereignty of Venezuela; what it is not willing to do is to turn a blind eye to irregularities. However, he went on to add that, "niether Uribe or Chávez is going to put Venezuelans and Colombians to fight each other."
Despite an estimated $2.4 billion in trade between the two nations in 2004, neither Colombia nor Venezuela seem to be close to backing down.
After concluding a meeting with Venzuelan Vice President José Vicente Rangel, as well as several ministers, the Minister of Communication, Andrés Izarra, repeated Chávez's demands for an apology, adding, "The Venezuelan government is continuing to patiently wait for answers from the Colombian government about the kidnapping of Granda."
Instead of apologizing, the Uribe administration has continued to defend its position, alleging that that it has in no way violated the sovereignty of its oil rich neighbor and turning the tables to make the same acccusations to its Venezuelan counterpart.
To back up their claims, the Colombian government says it sent a list of guerrillas, who are allegedly hiding in Venezuelan territory, to the Chávez administration. Colombian Interior Minister Sabas Pretelt noted that the Colombian government would continue to send the Venezuelan government detailed information on the whereabouts of guerrillas hiding in Venezuelan territory.
In an attempt to patch up differences between the two neighboring countries, Brazilian President Luiz Inacio "Lula" da Silva has offered to mediate a dialogue. According to analysists, Lula is "well placed" between conservative Uribe and the leftist Chávez to smooth the incident over.Brazil's Foreign Affairs Adviser, Marco Aurelio Garcia is scheduled to meet with Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez on Saturday, January 22nd, to establish the agenda for Lula's visit to the country on February 14th.