Gustavo Petro and Nicolás Maduro hold historic meeting in Caracas

The Colombian and Venezuelan heads of state met in the Venezuelan capital, marking the further strengthening of the diplomatic ties between the neighboring countries

November 01, 2022 by Peoples Dispatch
Colombian President Gustavo Petro and Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro met in Caracas on November 1, two months after formally re-establishing diplomatic relations. (Photo: Venezuelan Presidential Press/Twitter)

Colombian President Gustavo Petro and Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro met in Venezuela’s capital Caracas today on November 1, two months after formally re-establishing diplomatic relations and a month after resuming trade between the two neighboring countries.

At around 2:30 pm local time, President Maduro reported via Twitter that he received his Colombian counterpart in the Miraflores presidential palace.

Yesterday on October 31, through a press release, the Colombian Presidency reported that “President Petro will travel to the city of Caracas with his work team to have lunch with the Venezuelan president.”

The statement added that the leaders “will discuss bilateral relations, reopening of the borders and Venezuela’s reintegration into the Inter-American Human Rights System.”

Last week, during an event in Cúcuta, the capital of the department of Norte de Santander, bordering Venezuela, President Petro made a “respectful request” to his Venezuelan counterpart to join the mechanism, which his country left in 2013, denouncing that it served the interests of the United States.

The statement also added that the meeting is a part of President Petro’s efforts “to boost regional economies, socialize his agenda in favor of the interests of the Latin American bloc, and promote the protection of the Amazon as a part of the preliminary meetings for COP27.”

The 27th United Nations Climate Change Conference 2022 (COP27) is scheduled to take place from November 6 to 18 in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt.

This is the first time that Petro and Maduro are meeting each other since the mending of bilateral relations in late August. It is a historic meeting as it marks the further strengthening of the diplomatic ties between Colombia and Venezuela, which got increasingly worse with the intensification of attacks against Venezuela by the US and the support this campaign received by far-right president Iván Duque.

Colombia and Venezuela officially broke diplomatic relations in February 2019 after Duque recognized the US-backed self-proclaimed “president” Juan Guaidó as Venezuela’s legitimate leader and assisted his entry into Venezuela with so-called “humanitarian aid,” which was denounced as a front for an attempted coup by the Maduro government.

The termination of relations also led to the full closure of the common borders between the two countries, which had multifold impacts including the disruption of the transportation of various goods and causing 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 working with his Venezuelan counterpart on improving relations. The relations between the two countries have been steadily strengthening since then.

The countries officially restored political and diplomatic relations on August 29 by appointing ambassadors to each others’ nations. On September 26, the governments reopened their common land border, exchanged first cargo trucks, and restarted trade between the countries.

The binational commercial reopening was celebrated by people living in border cities. The governments expressed hope that the reopening would solve the security issues, as well as improve the socio-economic situation.

Additionally, on September 13, President Petro requested his Venezuelan counterpart to be a guarantor in the peace talks with the National Liberation Army (ELN) rebels, which the latter accepted.

On September 19, Colombia returned the control of the Venezuelan state-owned petrochemical company Monómeros to the management appointed by the Maduro government, after being controlled for three years by officials linked to Guaidó.

On September 29, the Venezuelan government expressed its full support for the Colombian government’s ‘Total Peace’ policy, and offered the country’s full assistance in achieving peace in border cities. The armed forces of both countries have begun working together to strengthen security and fight drug trafficking, fuel trafficking, irregular crossings, smuggling, among other cross-border crimes on the 2,219-kilometer-long common border.