Colombian President Gustavo Petro and Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro signed a joint declaration, on November 1, to further consolidate bilateral relations and mutual cooperation between the two neighboring nations. (Photo: Nicolás Maduro/Twitter)
Colombian President Gustavo Petro and Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro held their first bilateral meeting in the Venezuelan capital, Caracas, on Tuesday November 1, two months after formally restoring diplomatic relations. Relations had been broken in February 2019.
Following the meeting, Petro and Maduro signed a joint declaration to further consolidate bilateral relations and mutual cooperation between the two neighboring nations.
During the meeting, the two leaders discussed topics relating to commercial and economic alliances, matters pertaining to peace and security, and the future steps needed to achieve a full and secure reopening of the 2,219-kilometer-long common border.
The leaders additionally discussed the upcoming COP27 Climate summit and a common regional position for Latin America, especially in regards to the protection of the Amazon rainforest.
The heads of state also talked about strengthening regional integration organizations such as the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC).
They also discussed Venezuela’s return to the Andean Community (CAN), a trade bloc that includes Colombia, Ecuador, Peru and Bolivia. President Petro also urged his Venezuelan counterpart to reintegrate Venezuela into the Inter-American Human Rights System.
For his part, President Petro highlighted the importance of unity for the people of sister nations. “It is unnatural, anti-historical, that Colombia and Venezuela separate. It happened once, and it must not happen again because we are the same people,” said Petro.
“De aquí en adelante habrá buenas noticias para ambas poblaciones, iremos encaminando los pasos de integración y fortalecimiento de relaciones de nuestro pueblo, Gobierno y nuestros dos países”: @NicolasMaduro, Presidente de la República Bolivariana de Venezuela. pic.twitter.com/SHvywOsjw3
— Presidencia Colombia 🇨🇴 (@infopresidencia) November 1, 2022
In the joint declaration, the two leaders proposed to establish a joint-cooperation strategy based on the principles of brotherhood, solidarity and complementarity that make the relationship between the two neighboring countries more effective.
Petro and Maduro specifically agreed to join efforts in operational cooperation along the common border, which re-opened on September 26, “for coordinated work in the fight against transnational crime that puts the border security of both States at risk.”
They also agreed to “create and/or activate joint border security mechanisms for the protection of the border and of the people who will travel through it.”
The leaders also agreed on “the revival and resolution of critical knots in land, air, river and maritime transport.”
In terms of energy and mines, they agreed to establish working groups between both countries to explore and establish new complementary schemes on both sides.
They stressed that they will also “work to achieve an active exchange in the agro-industrial, agriculture, livestock, farming and petrochemical sectors.”
They also agreed to “designate the consular officials of their respective countries in order to guarantee the civil rights of the Venezuelan and Colombian nationals.”
Additionally, President Petro wished for “the greatest success” in the resumption of the dialogue table between the Government of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela and the Venezuelan opposition, adding that for it Colombia is at Venezuela’s disposal.
Likewise, President Maduro hoped for the success of the Colombian government’s central objective of achieving total peace.
Esta es la Declaración Conjunta firmada este #1Nov, por Colombia y Venezuela, que da inicio a una nueva época de cooperación conjunta entre pueblos hermanos. Es el encuentro de dos naciones unidas por el hilo conductor de la historia. pic.twitter.com/0IkIGc3DI8
— Nicolás Maduro (@NicolasMaduro) November 1, 2022
Tuesday’s meeting between the heads of state had been considered historic and highly important since it was the first official visit by a Colombian president to Venezuela in almost a decade. The last time a Colombian President had visited Venezuela was in March 2013. Former Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos, in the early years of his presidency, had gone to Venezuela to attend Commander Hugo Chávez’s massive funeral.
The diplomatic relations between Colombia and Venezuela had gotten increasingly worse since 2015 due to Petro’s predecessors Juan Manuel Santos and Ivan Duque’s support for the US attacks against the socialist government in Venezuela. The border between Colombia and Venezuela has been closed on and off since August 2015 due to security reasons and reportedly as a part of Venezuela’s strategy to fight against drug trafficking, paramilitarism and smuggling.
In February 2019, Venezuela severed diplomatic relations with Colombia after the former conservative Colombian President Iván Duque, recognized the US-backed self-proclaimed “president” Juan Guaidó as Venezuela’s legitimate leader.
Since his inauguration, Petro has taken a number of key steps to repair and improve relations with Venezuela, including reestablishing diplomatic relations, reopening the common border and resuming bilateral trade. He has additionally asked Venezuela to be a guarantor in the Colombian government’s peace talks with the National Liberation Army (ELN) rebels, which the latter accepted. Venezuela in response expressed its full support for the Colombian government’s ‘Total Peace’ policy to resolve the long running conflict in Colombia, and offered the country’s full assistance in achieving peace in border cities.