Barquisimeto, March 8 2018 (venezuelanalysis.com) On the first and second of March, social movements and human rights organizations from Colombia and Venezuela came together in the border cities of San José of Cucutá, Colombia and San Antonio, in the state of Táchira in Venezuela in an event of mutual solidarity for peace and self determination.
This event was organized as both countries face growing economic, social and political tensions that have manifested especially the border areas of these two countries in the form of mafias of contraband, presence of paramilitaries, social violence and xenophobia against Venezuelan immigrants, assassinations of Colombian political activists, and increased military presence on both sides of the border. Under the slogan “Peace for Colombia and Venezuela is peace for the continent” the event demonstrated the will of grassroots organizations to unite for peace, sovereignty and the stability of the region.
This two day bi-national event started off with panels and working groups on both sides of the border to create a common agenda addressing issues affecting both Venezuela and Colombia.
An important point of the debate around migration and border issues focused on the demilitarization of the border, creating relations between social movements to combat rising xenophobia, violence and discrimination against Venezuelan migrants, as well as addressing the particularly precarious situation of women immigrants.
Colombian activists also emphasized the need to address and work together on economic policies that can mutually benefit the people of both nations. While international media has focused almost solely on the current economic crisis in Venezuela, Colombian activists insist that poverty, malnutrition and unemployment have been long term problems in their country.
The debate also included demands for a cease fire as well as the normalization of peace talks between the Colombian state and the ELN.
The event closed on March 2nd in the Venezuelan city of San Antonio with a symbolic exchange of hugs between Colombian and Venezuelan brothers and sisters, followed by a number of cultural activities. A final document with the results of this meeting of international solidarity are expected to be signed and published this week.