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Leaving behind the absurdity with Venezuela

By: León Valencia, for @infobae

Translation by: María Victoria Ramírez

A few days ago Invamer published its opinion poll and said that 79% of those surveyed support the reestablishment of diplomatic, commercial and consular relations with Venezuela. On the other hand, not a single voice is heard from the political opposition or from the Colombian business community in favour of maintaining the recognition of Juan Guaidó as president of Venezuelans. It is a clear example of the irrationality to which Iván Duque and Uribismo had led the country.

Pepe Mujica once said that ideology can lead human beings to stupidity. Well, the rupture of relations with the neighbouring country was a mixture of ideology and unforgivable ignorance. With this cocktail there was a mess that will take us a long time to repair.

No matter how many ideological disagreements the Duque government and Uribismo had with Maduro and his government, no matter how much criticism they had of the Venezuelan political regime, they were not authorized by international law and common sense to interfere in the affairs of Venezuela and conspiring to overthrow the government.

They also did it from a total ignorance of the Venezuelan reality. They had no idea of ​​the tight control that Chavismo had and still has of the Armed Forces, of the roots that it still has in some sectors of the population and of the serious division and dim light of the Venezuelan opposition. That supine ignorance produced this phrase by Duque: "Maduro's days are counted."

With that "Maduro" is that now President Gustavo Petro normalizes relations that the majority of the country applauds and the opposition does not dare to criticize. Because diplomacy is a resource invented by humanity for relations between countries, all the more so if there are conflicts, and all the more so if at some point two countries are at opposite poles.

The formal part goes quickly, which is very good. Foreign Minister-designate Álvaro Leyva went to Táchira state to meet the Venezuelan Foreign Minister, before Gustavo Petro's inauguration. After the inauguration, the two embassies were opened and the appointed ambassadors – Armando Benedetti representing Colombia and Félix Plasencia representing Venezuela – are people with strong influence in both governments.

These decisions will be followed by the normalization of border crossings, the reestablishment of flights between Caracas and Bogotá and the opening of the 15 Colombian consulates in Venezuela and the 9 Venezuelan consulates in Colombia. This process will take a little longer, but the two governments have hinted that there is a willingness to shorten the time.

But the underneath work will be hard. Restarting the vigorous commercial trade we had will imply a great effort on both sides. It is estimated that by the end of this year we will reach the figure of 1.2 billion dollars in that exchange, far from the 8 billion we had at the best moment of the relationship. It is also mandatory to re-establish a partnership between the two countries to exploit Monómeros, an essential company for the development of our agriculture.

Forging joint strategies to overcome crime and violence on the border will also take time. At this time, the long border corridor is under the control of the ELN, the FARC dissidents, the Clan del Golfo, the Sinaloa Cartel, La Frontera, La Línea, the EPL and El Tren de Aragua. Drug trafficking and a variety of illegal businesses that go as far as sexual slavery have grown exponentially due to the lack of institutional control on both sides of the border.

Peace is another field of collaboration between the two countries. It will not be easy. The government of Nicolás Maduro would have to take distance from the ELN in order to take up a neutral position that would contribute to the peace negotiations. It is about generating incentives for the guerrillas to advance towards a bilateral cessation of hostilities and contribute to reassuring the country's hottest border. It is about seeking an agreement between the two countries to unleash a social pact and an ambitious development plan along the border that moves the ELN towards peace.


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