From terrorism plans, coup d’état and assassination to sending armed groups to the border: the Colombian president Ivan Duke has served as a habitual villain in the rhetoric of the illegitimate regime of Nicholas Maduro In Venezuela.
An ideological wall of 20 years has confronted these two countries, the last three without diplomatic relations. The new president of Colombia will have the challenge of turning the page: the candidates Gustavo Petro Y Rodolfo Hernandezfigures opposed to the ruling class who dispute power on June 19, have expressed a desire to rebuild ties with the neighbor.
The same mature. “Whoever wins the presidency in Colombia, we want peace and cooperation”has said.
The agenda is complicated, with an underlined theme: the porous common border of more than 2,000 km, which millions of Venezuelans have crossed fleeing the crisis, in which the presence of the guerrillas, paramilitaries and drug trafficking are denounced.
Bilateral trade, which has taken encouraging steps, and politics also figure.
2019 marked the rupture of the already fragile diplomatic, consular and commercial relations, when Duque called Maduro’s re-election fraudulent and recognized the opposition leader as interim president. Juan Guaidonow in a limbo.
“I am not going to worry about recognizing governments that Venezuelans, according to their norms, have already chosen”Hernández, an outsider without a political party, pointed out in a recent interview.
Petro, a 62-year-old senator and former guerrilla, has indicated for his part that “I saw no alternative” to the “full restoration” of relations with the Maduro government, which exercises power in practice.
Duque was leading the diplomatic pressure in the region to remove Maduro from power, a cause that is losing supporters with the return of the left to Argentina and most likely to Brazil in the coming months.
Receiver of some two million of the six million Venezuelans who have emigrated since 2015, Colombia accuses Maduro of giving refuge to dissidents of the extinct guerrilla of the FARC and to organizations linked to drug trafficking, which the socialist president denies.
Clashes in this area are regular. In June 2021, at least 16 soldiers died in combat with unidentified irregular groups in the border state of Apure, where military operations are ongoing.
Maduro refers to these groups as “Tancol”, “armed terrorist drug traffickers from Colombia”and a few days ago he used the term “tancolid” as an acronym for “Armed terrorists from Colombia sent by Iván Duque”.
Reports of plans by Duque to kill Maduro, with the cooperation of the United States, appear almost daily in the official discourse. On June 4, along these lines, the Venezuelan government affirmed that the Colombian president was behind a “sabotage” of an important refinery.
“Colombia, since former president (Álvaro) Uribe, has been a very interesting token to have a permanent red rag, a permanent enemy”explained the internationalist and university professor Felix Arellanohighlighting the close alliance between Bogota Y Washingtoncriticized by chavismo.
In theory, an eventual Petro government would knock down that ideological wall, which was erected 20 years ago with Uribe coming to power in 2002.
However, the former guerrilla fighter distanced himself from Maduro in the electoral campaign, after having shown proximity in previous years.
“He is not Maduro’s favorite”, said Renata Seguraanalyst of International Crisis Group. “Maduro sees in Petro an uncomfortable critic because he comes from the same ideological corner”.
Although Hernández has said that his first presidential decision will be to reestablish relations with Venezuela, his government plan threatens to deport hundreds of thousands of migrants in an irregular situation.
Your project, however, aims “more to economic issues”estimated the internationalist Carlos Luzverti.
“He has been mayor of Bucaramanga, a town in the border area” Y “knows first-hand what the commercial relationship between Colombia and Venezuela implies”which became one of the most active in the region.
The exchange, which was close to US$7.2 billion in 2008, collapsed with the partial closure of the border in 2015 and total in 2019.
Still, there is one “moderate hope in its positive evolution”stated in an article German Umanapresident of the Colombian-Venezuelan Chamberwith projections of US$ 800 million to US$ 1,200 million in the 2022-2021 period, was close to US$ 400 million.
Segura maintains, however, that Hernández’s foreign policy is still “a question mark”: “It can be your friend and the next day your enemy.”
The hardest hit of this imminent reestablishment of relations will be Guaidó, increasingly weakened, although he retains support from Washington.
“Recognizing Maduro is recognizing the dissidence of the FARC, the ELN, terrorism, drug trafficking”warned the opposition leader on Tuesday at a press conference. “It is recognizing political violence (against the opposition) from the State, recognizing human rights violators”.