Venezuela announces resumption of military relations with Colombia, says minister

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Venezuela announced the resumption of its military relations with Colombia two days after the inauguration of Gustavo Petro as president.

“I received instructions from CJ FANB @Nicolasmaduro, to immediately establish contact with the Colombian Ministry of Defense to re-establish our military relations,” Venezuelan Defense Minister Vladimir Padrino said on Twitter.

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After years of a stagnant relationship and with bilateral trust broken by the actions of recent governments — and after a campaign by President Iván Duque and his so-called diplomatic siege to remove President Nicolás Maduro from power — Petro’s statements were received with an air of cautious optimism and hope that they may result in 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, when Colombia ordered the closing of border crossings as a health measure.

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The border between Colombia and Venezuela, where people and goods have passed for centuries, was closed in 2015 by the Maduro government after a clash between Venezuelan security forces and civilians, which Maduro blamed on “paramilitarism” in Colombia and for which he blamed the former president. Colombian Alvaro Uribe, who at the time denied the allegations.

During the Duque government, the president of Colombia was one of the regional leaders who promoted the so-called Grupo Lima. This emerged on August 8, 2017 with the aim of seeking a peaceful solution to the crisis in Venezuela with the endorsement of several right-wing governments in the region, which politically and economically sanctioned the Maduro government.

After his election victory in June, Petro announced that he would reopen the borders with Venezuela to “restore the full exercise of human rights” there. Although the land border between Colombia and Venezuela is partially open, the objective is to open it completely and restore bilateral trade.

Trade has been one of the most affected by the problems at the borders of the two countries. In 2008, trade between the two countries was around US$7.2 billion, in 2015 it had dropped to around US$1.331 billion and in 2020 it was just US$221 million. And the pandemic has exacerbated the closure of border crossings.

(With information from Melissa Velasquez)

Source: CNN Brasil

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