On Friday, September 9, the governments of Colombian President Gustavo Petro and Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro simultaneously announced that they will reopen the common land border and resume commercial flights between the two countries on September 26, in a new step towards restoring the bilateral relations broken in February 2019.
“I am very pleased to announce that starting September 26, we will jointly open the borders between Venezuela and Colombia. We will also resume flights between Caracas-Bogotá and Valencia-Bogotá. The exchange and cooperation between our peoples are starting off on the right foot,” President Maduro tweeted.
“We aim at an economic alliance of respect and cooperation, with the aim of guaranteeing the well-being of the two peoples of (Liberator Simón) Bolívar. May the Venezuela-Colombia union strengthen!,” he wrote in another tweet.
Me alegra mucho anunciar que a partir del #26Sep daremos apertura conjunta a las fronteras entre Venezuela y Colombia. Además, reanudaremos los vuelos entre Caracas – Bogotá y Valencia – Bogotá. El intercambio y la cooperación entre nuestros pueblos, reinician con buen pie. pic.twitter.com/5iTqHbCVY5
— Nicolás Maduro (@NicolasMaduro) September 9, 2022
President Petro, confirming the same, tweeted that “on September 26, we will open the border between Colombia and Venezuela. As a first step, air travel and freight transport between our countries will resume. We confirm the government’s commitment to restore brotherly relations.”
El próximo 26 de septiembre daremos apertura a la frontera entre Colombia y Venezuela. Como primer paso, se reanudará la conexión aérea y el transporte de carga entre nuestros países. Confirmamos el compromiso del Gobierno por restablecer las relaciones de hermandad.
— Gustavo Petro (@petrogustavo) September 9, 2022
The announcement came two days after the neighboring countries formally re-established political and diplomatic relations after over three years of broken ties. Last month, on August 12, Maduro and Petro appointed ambassadors to each other’s countries. On August 29, President Maduro received credentials from Colombian ambassador Armando Benedetti. This Wednesday, on September 7, Venezuelan ambassador Félix Plascencia presented his credentials to President Petro, formalizing ties and sealing a new diplomatic stage.
Additionally, on Thursday, September 8, Colombian Commerce, Industry and Tourism Minister, Germán Umaña, traveled to Caracas and held a meeting with President Maduro and his team to discuss a common road map to activate cooperation for mutual benefit.
Likewise, the same day, the Colombian foreign ministry also installed the Inter-institutional Unit for the Reactivation of Relations with Venezuela. According to a press release from the ministry, “the unit was established with the purpose of coordinating the actions of national entities in the face of the reopening of the border and the reactivation of relations with Venezuela in a progressive manner, organized at all levels of the Government.”
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. Meanwhile, the diplomatic relations between the two nations were broken in February 2019 after the former conservative Colombian President Iván Duque, recognized self-proclaimed “president” Juan Guaidó as Venezuela’s legitimate leader and assisted him to enter into the country with so-called “humanitarian aid.”
Colombia and Venezuela are linked by strong business, cultural, ethnic, and family ties. The closure of the border disrupted the transportation of various goods and caused great distress to the population living in border areas on both sides. During his election campaign, Petro, who was inaugurated as Colombia’s first left-wing president on August 7, had pledged to resolve the border crisis in the Norte de Santander department, by renewing relations with Venezuela. Since assuming the presidency, Petro has been steadily working with his Venezuelan counterpart on improving relations.