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VenEconomy: Colombia border conflict
backfiring on Venezuela's Maduro?


Nicolás Maduro and his relations with the neighboring countries of Venezuela continue to go through a rough patch.

He did not fare well on a dispute with Guyana over the Essequibo region as it did not produce the expected results, or from his CARICOM "friends" or the UN, having to take back his Decree No. 1,859 with which he was to create the so-called Operational Area of Comprehensive Defense for Maritime and Island Sectors (Zodimain).

The latest border conflict episode with Colombia seems not to be producing the expected results for the Venezuelan government, either, as deduced from the facts of the inexplicable three-point closure of the Colombia-Venezuela border in Táchira state, and the decree of a state of emergency in six municipalities of that same state, as well as the dehumanized deportation (and forced return) of Colombian citizens.

The opinion emerging at international level is that the government of Maduro is suffering from a strong despotism that disrespects the human rights of both Venezuelan nationals and Colombians and has no diplomatic restraint with its most significant neighboring State.

Besides that, the disproportionate and aggressive treatment given to Colombians living in the area has awakened the spirit of nationalism in Colombia and the move has been rejected almost unanimously by all the political and economic sectors of that nation.

On Wednesday, former Colombian president and former OAS head, César Gaviria, surprised the public opinion with a strong statement by calling on national unity, claiming that a Venezuelan president had never offended both Colombia and its citizens so much in 200 years, making it clear that Colombia was not going to be harassed this way, and that he would exhaust all diplomatic channels of International Law. In addition to rubbing salt in Maduro's wound after saying that he has not been capable of managing his country and that he is blaming Colombia for it. It is especially surprising from Gaviria this clear position given that, as much as an electoral observer during the recall referendum in 2004 and throughout his OAS presidency, his public and notorious benevolence towards the government of Hugo Chávez.

For his part, the also former president of Colombia Andrés Pastrana requested Juan Manuel Santos, the current Colombian president, to seriously assess the role of Venezuela during the peace talks with FARC because he believes that the Government "is morally and ethically unfit to exercise its accompanying function."

Another mishap in this conflict has been the little diplomatic professionalism shown by Venezuelan authorities, including allegations that Maduro has not responded to the calls of Santos.

Frictions are so strong that a meeting between the foreign ministers of both countries on Wednesday did not subside the chaos and an agreement was not reached on the two conditions that, according to Maduro, were imposed by Venezuela to lift the closure of the border: 1) that the government of Colombia forbids attacks on the bolívar currency and (2) that the government of Colombia bans sales on Venezuelan products smuggled into the country. But, according to unofficial versions, the biggest hurdle would be in a third condition: that the government of Colombia forbids extraditions of drug traffickers to the U.S.

The situation was further aggravated when, according to statements by the Ombudsman of Colombia, neither he nor the consul of Colombia in Venezuela were allowed to visit the areas of eviction and demolition of homes of their own fellow countrymen.

And things heated up even further when Santos announced in a press conference that he was recalling his ambassador in Venezuela, Ricardo Lozano, as he called a meeting with representatives of the political parties and his ministers and requested an emergency meeting with members of Unasur and the OAS to find a way out of the border crisis.

The response of Maduro was also to recall his ambassador in Bogotá, Iván Rincón.

From there the breaking of diplomatic relations may be just a step away, while the international arena condemns the acts of the Government for the pictures of children, the elderly, women, men and their pets carrying their belongings on their backs while leaving the Venezuelan territory all terrified, bringing to mind the Jews in the era of Adolf Hitler.

VenEconomy has been a leading provider of consultancy on financial, political and economic data in Venezuela since 1982.

 

 

VenEconomy has been a Venezuela's leading specialized publisher on financial, political and economic data since 1982. VenEconomy's Points of View on the issues of the day, as seen by VenEconomy during the last week. Petroleumworld does not necessarily share these views.

Editor's Note: This commentary was originally published by Veneconomy , on August, 28, 2015. Petroleumworld reprint this article in the interest of our readers.

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Petroleumworld News 08/31/2015

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