Colombia, Venezuela restore full diplomatic relations

Colombian envoy to Venezuela arrives in Caracas as the neighbouring countries normalise relations that were severed three years ago.

President Gustavo Petro signs a decree appointing Armando Benedetti as the new ambassador to Venezuela.
Colombian President Gustavo Petro, left, signs a decree appointing Armando Benedetti as the new ambassador to Venezuela, at Narino presidential palace in Bogota, Colombia, on August 24, 2022 [File: Colombian presidency/ Handout via AFP]

Colombia and Venezuela have restored full diplomatic relations after a three-year break.

A new Colombian ambassador, Armando Benedetti, arrived in the Venezuelan capital, Caracas, on Sunday.

“Relations with Venezuela should never have been severed. We are brothers and an imaginary line cannot separate us,” the new envoy wrote on Twitter.

Benedetti was welcomed by Venezuela’s Deputy Foreign Minister Rander Pena Ramirez, who tweeted that “our historical ties summon us to work together for the happiness of our peoples”.

Colombia’s new left-wing president, Gustavo Petro, and Venezuela’s socialist President Nicolas Maduro announced on August 11 that they planned to restore diplomatic relations, which were severed in 2019.

Caracas had broken off ties with Bogota early that year after members of the Venezuelan opposition tried to cross from Colombian territory with trucks loaded with food and medicine.

It also closed the border, saying the aid masked an attempted coup by the opposition with support from the United States. Embassies and consulates in both countries were shut down, and flights between the neighbors were grounded.

The former president of Colombia, Ivan Duque, did not recognise Maduro’s re-election in 2019 and had instead backed opposition leader Juan Guaido’s claim that he is Venezuela’s interim president.

Ties have warmed since Petro assumed office in early August.

Petro, Colombia’s first left-wing president, said he will recognise Maduro and work with the Venezuelan government on several issues, including fighting rebel groups along the porous border between the countries.

Maduro has also appointed Felix Plasencia, a former foreign minister, as ambassador to Bogota.

In addition to exchanging ambassadors, the normalisation process will include the full reopening of the more than 2,000-km (1,200-mile) border between the two countries, which has been largely closed to vehicles since 2015, though it has been open to pedestrians since late last year.

Caracas and Bogota have also announced intentions to restore military relations.

Source: News Agencies