The planned merger is materializing. Venezuela and Colombia announced Thursday, August 11, that they would exchange ambassadors, more than three years after breaking diplomatic relations.
In Caracas, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro says former Foreign Minister Félix Plasencia has requested accreditation from the Colombian government “and will soon be in Bogota”.
“I have decided, in response to the Venezuelan government which has appointed the ambassador who will be responsible for normalizing relations between the two countries, to appoint Armando Benedetti as Colombia’s ambassador to Venezuela”, retorted Gustavo Petro in a video addressed to the media. Mr. Benedetti is a former senator.
Caracas severed diplomatic ties with Bogotá in February 2019 when right-wing Colombian President Ivan Duque failed to recognize Nicolas Maduro’s re-election and backed opposition leader Juan Guaido’s proclamation as interim president. Mr. Maduro has also repeatedly reported on alleged plans fomented by Mr. Duque to overthrow him.
In addition to the exchange of ambassadors, the normalization process provides for the complete reopening of the border of more than 2,000 km which separates the two countries, completely closed to vehicles since 2015 and reopened only to pedestrians since the end of last year. . Caracas and Bogota will also restore their military relations.
“We will continue step by step and at a sure pace to move towards the restoration and reconstruction of political, diplomatic and commercial relations”said Mr. Maduro on the public channel VTV.
Gustavo Petro, the first left-wing president in the history of Colombia elected on June 19, announced during his campaign that he would restore diplomatic relations with Venezuela as soon as he took office on August 7.
MM. Petro and Maduro have already spoken on the phone but the presence of guerrillas, paramilitaries and drug traffickers on the porous common border area, which millions of Venezuelans have crossed to flee the crisis, remains a sensitive subject.