COLOMBIA-VENEZUELA CIVIL SOCIETY CONVERGENCE
By: The Pares Editorial Team
Translated by: Rebecca Oswalt.
From the article NUEVA CONVERGENCIA CIUDADANA COLOMBIA-VENEZUELA
FOR A PEACEFUL RESOLUTION IN VENEZUELA AND THE RECONSTRUCTION OF BILATERAL RELATIONS
The Colombia-Venezuela Civil Society Convergence is a diverse collection of social and political actors committed to a peaceful, political exit from the crisis in Venezuela. This diplomatic effort seeks to create bilateral, regional dialogues to accomplish this goal and to build bridges between the two countries.
This citizen diplomacy effort is also committed to encouraging countries in the region to support legitimate negotiations between Venezuelans. Only then will it be possible to avoid forced departures from Venezuela and undue interference in the country’s affairs that further aggravate the crisis. Such an effort will also reestablish bilateral and multilateral mechanisms of understanding and cooperation, allowing the countries to address their mutual challenges and opportunities in their shared border areas.
The situation in Venezuela and the status of the Colombian-Venezuelan relationship are becoming increasingly worrisome. The humanitarian emergency, social problems, and security issues combined with the acute economic and institutional deterioration not only impact the Venezuela internally, but it also has external impacts, particularly in Colombia. In turn, the severe problems within Colombia resulting from the decisions made by its government, also seriously affect Venezuela.
The absence of relations between the governments of Iván Duque and Nicolás Maduro as well as Maduro’s intermittent orders to close the six border entrances along the 2,219 km border, have deepened the presence and actions of violent criminal groups engaged in smuggling, drug trafficking, illegal mining, human trafficking, sexual exploitation and the recruitment of minors into their groups. These groups impose their «laws» and illegally regulate the migrant flows between the two countries, which have shared a long, rich history of mutual exchange of many sorts. The perpetuation of this issue further erodes the state capacities and exacerbates bilateral tensions.
Reactive diplomacy, such as Maduro’s movement of troops and military equipment to the border from September 10th to 28th, dangerously escalate the frictions in the area. Any action, including those that may be unintentional, can provoke a confrontation with grave, unforeseeable consequences. Furthermore, 12 OAS governments, including that of Juan Guaidó (president of the Venezuelan Parliament), are seeking to activate the International Treaty of Reciprocal Assistance (TIAR).
Latin America and the Caribbean, due to the paralysis of their negotiating bodies and international cooperation organizations, are increasingly involved in global geopolitical tensions. The whole region loses by not reaching an agreement to promote a peaceful and democratic transition in Venezuela. Although the various attempts to establish dialogue between the government and the opposition have not borne fruit, these efforts and others aimed at reaching a consensus, underscore the need to create channels that will allow for a negotiated solution, as is hoped for by the vast majority of the Venezuelan people.
Therefore, this Civil Society Convergence urgently calls for the strengthening of effective diplomatic, governmental, social and citizen initiatives. To that end, it will perform Citizen Dialogues in support of negotiation and peaceful transition in Venezuela. These dialogues will also enhance the reconstruction of the bilateral Colombia-Venezuela relationship and the transformation of the grave situation at the border, which we expect will contribute in turn to the consolidation of peace in Colombia.