Colombia, Venezuela to reconcile against stealthy infiltration

16:05, August 13, 2010      

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After a 19-day suspension of diplomatic ties, Venezuela and Colombia announced the resumption of diplomatic relations Tuesday, and Colombia and other South American nations have also begun to enter a period for adjustment of their relations. The restoration of diplomatic ties between Colombia and Venezuela would not only benefit the people of both nations, noted media comments, but is also an objective choice to avert the infiltration of exterior forces into the region.

Colombia's President Juan Manuel Santos held talks with his Venezuelan counterpart Hugo Chavez, in their first meeting since Santos took office, in Santa Marta, a historical Colombian city on the Caribbean coast on August 10, Santos and Chavez reached an agreement on Tuesday to restore diplomatic relations between the two countries during their talks.

Colombia and Venezuela had belonged to Great Colombia Federal Republic in history, and the current summit also shows that they are inextricably linked to their historical and cultural ties.

Upon his arrival in Colombia, Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, holding fresh flows in hand, wore casual attire with the national flag color as its foundation color as an implication that both nations are of the same clan. The two presidents selected the manor of the Latin American Independence Movement Herald Liberator, Simon Bolivar, as their meeting site, and this is meaningful and thought-provoking. In early 19th century, the wise leadership of Bolivar was attributable to the liberation Venezuela, Colombia and other nations in the region.

Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos and his Venezuelan counterpart Hugo Chavez reportedly had held the wide-ranging talks, which include a deal Colombia has signed to give the U.S. military access to seven Colombian bases with the aim to combat drug trafficking and rebels, which resulted in the rapture of bilateral ties due to the ensuing activities of Colombian guerrillas in Colombia's border regions, the maintenance of the unity of South American nations, peace in the region and bilateral trade expansion.

At a press conference after the summit, Chavez reiterated that Colombian guerrillas will not be allowed to appear in the Venezuelan territory. The two presidents pledged not to interfere in each other's internal affairs and that any agreement to sign with the third party will not threat each other's interests. This indicates that Santos' pledge to Chavez that seven U.S. military bases in Colombia will not be offensive to Venezuela. The two governments decided to set up five specialized committees for dialogues in economic, trade and security, etc. The two presidents also agreed in their talks to exchange ambassador at soon as possible.

Colombian Foreign Minister Maria Angela Holguin said the engagement or contact between the Colombian and Venezuelan governments is "transparent" and sincere. Meanwhile, Nestor Kirchner, the former Argentinean president and secretary general of the Union of South American Nations (Unasur) voiced his satisfaction with the responsible spirit displayed by the Colombian and Venezuelan governments.

As a matter of course, Venezuela and Colombia are imperative to resume their diplomatic relations. On August 8, the day after Santos's oath taking to presidency, Venezuelan Foreign Minister Nicolas Maduro and his Colombian counterpart Maria Angela Hoguin, accompanied by former Argentinean President Kirchner, held working talks for more than three hours to confer on resumption of their diplomatic ties.

Colombia and Venezuela are very complementary indeed. Venezuela hinges on external markets for its food supply in spite of being a strong petroleum power, and its agriculture products trade with Colombia enjoys natural geographical advantages. In the meantime, Colombia has a great energy demand and it can import Colombia's petroleum and natural gas directly by land. After the resumption of diplomatic ties, Colombia can ensure its border security and the two nations will have great cooperation prospects on the debt issue and the fight against organized crime.

In another development, Venezuela is victimized by Colombia's civil strife. A large number of Columbian refugees have fled to Venezuela and this caused a security problem in its border cities. In addition, drug cartels often use Colombia's borders for drug trafficking to Europe and the Caribbean region, so Venezuela's pressure from drug enforcement administration has intensified.

In its endeavor to develop bilateral ties, Venezuela seeks the common ground while reserving their differences, and this is aimed to guard against or prevent the exterior forces from making further infiltration or creating more barriers.

Venezuela broke up its diplomatic ties with Colombia on July 22, after Bogota blamed Caracas for allegedly hosting Colombian guerrilla chief in its soil. For the restoration of diplomatic ties, Chavez has displayed a flexible approach, calling for the release of all hostages held by anti-government guerrilla force in Colombia and reaffirming that Venezuela will not allow guerrillas to appear in its territory.

As for Colombia, the new, incumbent government needs to balance its external relations. Apart from restoring its diplomatic ties with Venezuela, its relations with other South American countries have also started to enter an adjustment period.

Author: Zhang Weizhong People's Daily August 12, 2010
Translator: Miao Baogen


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