Agreement to End Venezuela-Colombia Crisis has been Reached

Colombia released a statement indicating that the crisis between Colombia and Venezuela over the "Granda Affair" has been overcome. Colombia has agreed to review the kidnapping with Venezuela and to coordinate its activities better with Venezuela.

Colombia’s President Alvaro Uribe responding to questions about the ending of the Colombia-Venezuela crisis.
Credit: RCN

Caracas, January 28, 2005—A communiqué that was released Friday evening by the Colombian president’s office (Casa de Nariño) indicates that the crisis between Venezuela and Colombia has been overcome. The communiqué, which was drafted with the help of the Peruvian foreign minister Manuel Rodriguez, says that Colombia is willing to review the Granda case to determine if the Colombian action in the case has resulted in any “inconveniences” for Venezuela. The communiqué also specifies that Colombian President Alvaro Uribe will visit Venezuela on February 3rd to discuss the case with President Chavez.

The crisis erupted when Venezuelan officials accused Colombian security forces of bribing Venezuelan police and kidnapping Rodrigo Granda, the “Foreign Minister” of the leftist Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), this past December 13th. While Colombian officials denied acting inappropriately, Venezuela recalled its ambassador to Colombia and suspended bilateral projects, demanding an apology from Bogotá.

Venezuela’s foreign minister, Ali Rodriguez, said in response to the communiqué, “We received the communiqué gladly and as a positive gesture from our brother-country, the Republic of Colombia.” “Immediately the Venezuelan government will give a response in the same tone, as we believe that spaces have been opened for the overcoming of this lamentable incident,” added Rodriguez.

Peru’s foreign minister, Manuel Rodriguez, who negotiated the deal, said, “This is a good agreement—very beneficial not just for both countries, but also for the stability of the region. It is an agreement that satisfies both parties and, most importantly, I believe it contains dispositions so that both governments may coordinate in the struggle against terrorism, narco-trafficking, kidnapping, and other crimes.”

Resolution was preceded by meeting of Venezuela’s and Colombia’s foreign ministers

Venezuelan Foreign Minister Ali Rodriguez met with his Colombian counterpart, Carolina Barco, yesterday, in the Peruvian capital in an attempt to resolve the diplomatic crisis that has plagued the Andean neighbors since last December. 

Foreign Minister Ali Rodriguez responding to the Colombian communiqué.
Credit: VTV

In the first informal meeting between Colombia and Venezuela since January 12th, Barco stated that her country was not going to apologize to Venezuela, but that both nations would continue to work towards a solution to the diplomatic crisis between them. “We will not apologize,” affirmed Barco to reporters in the headquarters of the Andean Community of Nations in the Peruvian capital after holding the first of two meetings with Rodriguez.

The meeting between Barco and Rodriguez was arranged by the Peruvian Foreign Minister Manuel Rodriguez and coincided with Chinese Vice President Zeng Quinghong’s visit with the Foreign Relations Ministers of the Andean Community of Nations (CAN). 

The Secretary General of the CAN, Peruvian Allan Wagner, has reinforced this position, looking upon Washington’s comments with great preoccupation and emphasizing that “it is important that the United States observe a policy of non-intervention.”

Although Granda was not wanted by Interpol and the Colombian government failed to notify its Venezuelan counterpart of its intentions to apprehend the guerrilla activist on Venezuelan soil, the US State Department has demanded an explanation from Chavez as to why Granda was permitted “to move freely in Venezuela” and insisted that the Bolivarian government take a more active role in the fight against “terrorism.”

Venezuela’s army commander says all irregular troops will be targeted in Venezuela

In response to these comments, Army Commander General Raul Baduel declared in a military function Thursday morning that the Venezuelan army would respond to any form of aggression on the Colombian-Venezuelan border. “When it comes time to defend the sovereignty and national integrity of Venezuela, our soldiers will not allow incursions into its territory by any illegal armed group, whether it be leftist rebels, right-wing paramilitaries or common criminals.”

In addition to increasing patrols along its 1,400 mile shared-border to four-times the number of Colombian troops, Venezuela has recently purchased Russian helicopters designed to impede the violence that has plagued neighboring Colombia for more than fifty years from spilling over the border into Venezuela.