Colombia and Venezuela resume diplomatic relations

venezuela colombia relations
Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro (right) greets new Colombian ambassador Armando Benedetti. Photo: Twitter/Nicolás Maduro

The governments of Colombia and Venezuela fully restored their diplomatic ties on Sunday after ambassadors on both sides were dispatched to the respective capitals of Bogotá and Caracas.

The occasion marked the end of a three-year period in which bilateral relations between the two nations were fully severed, which crowned two decades of ideological tensions between the neighboring administrations.

These tensions could come to an end after the election of democratic left-winger Gustavo Petro as Colombia’s president. Mr. Petro has called for a better understanding with his Venezuelan counterpart Nicolás Maduro.

In Caracas, the new Colombian ambassador Armando Benedetti was sworn in amid compliments from Mr. Maduro in the Miraflores Palace. A former senator, Mr. Benedetti became a key figure in Mr. Petro’s campaign, despite a history of working with the Colombian right.

A well-known Colombian political chameleon, the new ambassador has been cited in two different corruption investigations, including one related to Brazilian construction firm Odebrecht, now renamed Novodor. This case was shelved by the Colombian Supreme Court back in May due to a lack of evidence. 

According to Mr. Benedetti, Messrs. Petro and Maduro might have their first official meeting by the “end of September.” The ambassador added that “relations with Venezuela should never have been severed. We are brothers and an imaginary line cannot separate us.” 

Mr. Maduro recently said he will propose a plan to create a binational commercial zone between the border states of Santander in Colombia and Táchira in Venezuela. The two sides are also hoping to put an end to violent conflicts in border areas. The Maduro administration appointed former Foreign Minister Félix Plasencia as its ambassador to Colombia. Mr. Plasencia arrived in Bogotá during the weekend with the promise of “rescuing Latin America and the Caribbean’s traditions of brotherhood.”