Venezuela’s Maduro and Colombia’s Petro Emphasize Peace and Regional Integration Following Talks

The two leaders discussed bilateral cooperation projects and expressed joint positions concerning Ecuador, Haiti and Palestine.
Maduro Petro April 2024
Maduro and Petro praised the close relatiosn between the neighboring nations. (Prensa Presidencial)

Caracas, April 11, 2024 ( – The Venezuelan and Colombian presidents hailed unity and cooperation during a bilateral meeting in Caracas on Tuesday.

Venezuela’s Nicolás Maduro hosted Colombian counterpart Gustavo Petro in Miraflores Palace for the fifth time since the latter took office in August 2022.

Maduro told reporters that the pair and their respective teams had had “a good conversation” to analyze “the evolution of the relations” between the two Latin American countries. He added that the talks covered aspects such as trade, transportation, renewable energies and electricity.

“Our two peoples are one and the same, and we should deepen our integration and unity efforts,” Maduro said.

The Venezuelan and Colombian delegations additionally discussed cooperation opportunities in the oil and natural gas sectors.

One of the main issues brought up by the two presidents was the need to secure peace in the region, with Maduro stating that “the peace of Colombia is the peace of Venezuela” and that his government is always “ready to help.” 

Venezuela is serving as a guarantor in dialogue processes between the Colombian governments and two armed insurgent movements: the Ejército de Liberación Nacional (ELN) and the Estado Mayor Central (EMC). Several rounds of talks have taken place in Caracas.

The EMC brings together dissident factions from the demobilized FARC guerrilla that either did not subscribe to the 2016 Peace Accords or picked up arms again after the Colombian state failed to honor its side of the bargain.

For his part, Petro highlighted the “spirit of cooperation and understanding” in the meeting, and praised Venezuelan efforts over the years to support peace talks in Colombia.

“We have to make sure that South America is protected against barbarity, against the violence that is springing up around the world,” he told reporters.

The Colombian president went on to state that peace in his country was also tied to “political, social and economic peace” in Venezuela. At the same time, he stressed the need to ramp up coordinated security work to tackle armed groups and illicit economic activities.

According to a joint statement, discussions likewise extended to international matters, with the two leaders condemning the actions of Ecuadorian security forces that stormed the Mexican embassy in Quito to seize Jorge Glas. The former vice president had been granted asylum by the López Obrador government.

Petro and Maduro also coincided in the need to find urgent solutions for the Haitian political crisis and in condemning the ongoing genocide in Palestine.

The relations between the two neighbors had a moment of tension last week as the Venezuelan Foreign Ministry criticized its Colombian counterpart for expressing concerns regarding the registration of candidates for Venezuela’s upcoming presidential election.

In the lead-up to Petro’s visit, Maduro sought to play down any animosity, claiming that he welcomed “differences of opinion” and that Colombia and Venezuela would not be separated.

The talks in Caracas came in the wake of reports that the Petro government has mediated efforts by Colombian corporations to secure compensation for assets nationalized during the Hugo Chávez governments in Venezuela.

According to Bloomberg, Cementos Argos is poised to take over a cement plant near the Venezuelan coast. The company, which controls 35 percent of Colombia’s cement market, had a factory nationalized in 2006 and is allegedly trying to secure a US Treasury license so it is not judged to breach Washington’s unilateral sanctions. Cementos Argos would eye cement exports to the US should it secure a plant in Venezuela.

Similarly, sugar producer Comercializadora Internacional de Azúcares y Mieles (Ciamsa) is looking to be indemnified for a sugar mill expropriated in 2006. Germán Umaña, Colombia’s minister of commerce, trade and tourism who formerly led the Colombian-Venezuelan Chamber of Commerce, has been driving negotiations.

Former Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez pushed multiple legislative efforts to boost the country’s sovereignty in key economic sectors. The efforts drew fierce clashes with both national and foreign corporations which often led to nationalizations. In some cases Caracas managed to agree compensations with corporations, while in others there were no talks. 

Several multinational firms pursued litigation and have secured awards from instances such as the World Bank’s International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID).