Venezuela has started contacts with the government of Gustavo Petro in Colombia to restore “military relations” between the two countries, which share a porous and violent border, Defense Minister Vladimir Padrino López said on Tuesday (9).
“I received instructions” from President Nicolás Maduro “to contact the Colombian Defense Minister, which I will do in the next few hours,” Padrino López told the government press.
The rapprochement seeks to restore “military relations” between the two countries, the Venezuelan Armed Forces posted on Twitter, quoting the minister’s words.
“Given the new national scenario that Colombia is experiencing, it’s time to take back responsibilities and work together,” added Padrino López.
Petro named Iván Velásquez, a renowned investigator who chaired the UN commission against corruption in Guatemala, as defense minister.
Venezuela and Colombia agreed to restore diplomatic relations at ambassadorial level with Petro’s arrival to power last Sunday. The break came in 2019 after the previous government, of Iván Duque, recognized the opposition Juan Guaidó as interim president.
“It doesn’t mean that there will be a political change and that the changes are immediate, that doesn’t exist, we have to go little by little, that no one rushes, a lot of prudence, a lot of tact and a lot of open eyes”, declared the minister.
The 2,000 km of borders shared by the two countries are marked by years of violence, with the presence of guerrillas, paramilitaries and drug traffickers.
Duque accused Maduro of giving refuge to dissidents from the dissolved FARC and organizations linked to drug trafficking, which the socialist denied, in addition to denouncing Bogotá’s conspiracies to overthrow or assassinate him.
In March 2021, fighting in Apure between the Venezuelan military and Colombian irregulars, which Chavismo linked to the neighboring government, left 16 officers dead and thousands of civilians displaced.
Colombian forces also denounced violations of their territory by the Venezuelan military. In August 2021, they detained two soldiers accused of crossing illegally armed.
In addition, the closing of binational crossings led to the opening of alternative routes, called “trochas”, through which thousands of people and millions of dollars in contraband transit.
© Agence France-Presse