(CNN Spanish) – Venezuela announced the resumption of military relations with Colombia two days after its inauguration Gustavo Petro as chief.
“I have been instructed by CJ FANB @ Nicolasmaduro, to immediately make contact with the Colombian Ministry of Defense to restore our military relations,” Via Twitter Venezuelan Defense Minister Vladimir Padrino.
After years of a stagnant relationship and bilateral trust broken by recent governments’ actions – and after President Ivan Duque’s campaign and so-called diplomatic blockade to remove questionable President Nicolas Maduro from power – Petro’s comments were greeted with an air of cautious optimism and hope that it would lead to the normalization of bilateral relations.
Relations between Colombia and Venezuela have been in crisis since 2015 and the situation worsened with the pandemic in 2020, as Colombia ordered the closure of border crossings as a health measure.
The border between Colombia and Venezuela, where people and goods have passed for centuries, were closed in 2015 by Nicolás Maduro’s government after a confrontation between Venezuelan security forces and civilians, which Maduro attributed to Colombia’s “paramilitaries” and which he blamed on the former. Colombian President Alvaro Uribe, who at the time denied the accusations.
During Duque’s government, the President of Colombia was one of the regional leaders who promoted the so-called Lima Group. This appeared on August 8, 2017, with the aim of searching for a peaceful solution to the crisis in Venezuela with the participation of many right-wing governments in the region, which imposed political and economic sanctions on the Maduro government.
After his electoral victory in June, Petro announced that he would reopen the border with Venezuela “to restore the full exercise of human rights” there. Although the land border between Colombia and Venezuela is partially open, the goal is to open it completely and restore bilateral trade.
Trade has been one of the hardest hit by the problems on the Colombian-Venezuelan border. In 2008, the trade exchange between the two countries amounted to about 7.2 billion US dollars, in 2015 it decreased to about 1.331 billion US dollars and in 2020 it was only 221 million dollars. The epidemic has also exacerbated the closures of border crossings.
With information from Melissa Velasquez