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Colombia, Venezuela vow to rebuild ties

July 29, 2022

After years of strained relations, the neighboring countries will reopen their embassies and appoint new ambassadors for the first time since 2019.

People crossing the Simon Bolivar International Bridge on the border between Venezuela and Colombia.
The Simon Bolivar International Bridge is a key artery between Venezuela and ColombiaImage: Carlos Eduardo Ramirez/REUTERS

Colombia's new left-wing President Gustavo Petro will reestablish diplomatic relations with Venezuela when he takes office on August 7.

On Thursday, Venezuela's Foreign Minister Carlos Faria and the foreign minister-elect of Colombia, Alvaro Leyva, made a joint declaration in the Venezuelan border city of San Cristobal.

Leyva said both sides wanted to see "the gradual normalization of bilateral relations from August 7 by naming ambassadors and diplomatic and consular officials."

Faria confirmed one item on the agenda was the "gradual opening" of the border.

Colombia and Venezuela share a long, porous border that has long been a haven for armed groups like the ELN and FARC.

The security situation has lead to concerns over smuggling and kidnapping.

Repairing a relationship

The relationship between Colombia and Venezuela broke down during the 2015 migrant crisis.

In 2019, Colombia's outgoing President Ivan Duque cut off ties with Caracas altogether when he refused to recognize the election of Venezuelan leader Nicolas Maduro.

Embassies and consulates in both countries were closed, while flights between the two countries were also grounded. The border itself remained shut between 2019 and late 2021.

Venezuelan migrant crisis

Maduro regularly accused Duque of being part of supposed plans to topple him, while the conservative president claimed his Venezuelan counterpart harbored Colombian rebels.

As the two foreign ministers met on Thursday, Colombia's police force claimed a former guerrilla hiding in Venezuela had offered more than $1.5 million (€1.4 million) as a reward for the assassination of outgoing President Duque.

zc/wd (Reuters, AFP)