Opposition Governor Capriles Meets with Colombia’s Santos, Venezuelan Government Concerned

Yesterday afternoon, Miranda state governor and former presidential candidate Henrique Capriles met with Colombian president Juan Santos in Bogota. 

By Tamara Pearson
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Merida, May 30th 2013 (Venezuelanalysis.com) – Yesterday afternoon, Miranda state governor and former presidential candidate Henrique Capriles met with Colombian president Juan Santos in Bogota.

After Capriles first announced the visit yesterday, Venezuelan foreign minister Elias Jaua accused Capriles of going to Colombia to put together “economic sabotage plans in Venezuela”.

Jaua said the meeting between Capriles and Santos was a “step towards derailing” relations between Colombia and Venezuela, and denounced that a “conspiratorial process” against Venezuela was underway in Colombia.

“We didn’t want to believe that this conspiracy had reached the highest powers of the Colombian state,” he said, warning that it was a “bad sign” that the Colombian government “received the person who convoked violence [after 14 April elections]”.

Further, Jaua warned that the Venezuelan government will “re-evaluate” its role in accompanying the peace process between the Colombian government and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC). The Santos government and the FARC have been in a process of dialogue since October last year, with Norway and Cuba facilitating the process, and Venezuela and Chile accompanying it.

“It’s difficult to work for the peace of a brother people when its highest institutions are encouraging and feeding into destabilisation in Venezuela,” Jaua said.

Jaua also criticised Capriles’ for “abandoning” Miranda state and his tasks there, “He should explain to the [state] legislative council and the people of Miranda how this trip benefits his state,” he said.

This afternoon, Venezuelan president Nicolas Maduro also commented on the meeting, calling on the armed forces and Venezuelan people to be “alert” in the face of the “psychological operation [organised] from Bogota to weaken Venezuelan democracy”

Head of Venezuela’s national assembly, Diosdado Cabello, said yesterday that the meeting with Santos was “an aggression and not a courtesy visit”. He asked how Santos would react if the Venezuelan government met with “violent agents who affect peace in Colombia”. Cabello requested that the Colombian government clarify if its “with the golpista [Capriles] or the constitutional government of Nicolas Maduro”.

According to Telesur journalist in Colombia, Vladimir Carillo, the meeting between Santos and Capriles has created “a very unpleasant atmosphere” there, and after the meeting both men “avoided” any statements to the press.

Carillo said the meeting was held on Wednesday morning, lasted around 30 minutes, and that it “could affect commercial and political relations” between Venezuela and Colombia . He also reported that “Capriles wanted to speak in the senate, but they denied him that, and he only got to meet with the president of the chamber”.

Today Capriles’ only comments have been to criticise the government’s re-evaluation of its role in the peace process. Capriles said it was “unacceptable” because “peace can never be an object of threats”. According to the newspaper El Nacional, Capriles is visiting several Latin American countries to garner support for his challenge of the 14 April presidential election results.

Former Colombian president Alvaro Uribe, via his Twitter account also reacted today to the Venezuelan government’s concerns, saying the meeting “wasn’t clandestine” like the alleged meetings between “the Venezuelan government and the terrorist FARC”.

Capriles’ meeting with Santos yesterday was his second one. They first formally met last September during Capriles’ campaign to win the October presidential elections.