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2023 | OriginalPaper | Chapter

Difficult but Necessary: Venezuela-Colombia Relations Throughout Time—A Historical Depiction of Two Specially Connected Neighbors

Author : Alexandra Gericke

Published in: Venezuela – Dimensions of the Crisis

Publisher: Springer International Publishing

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Abstract

The two South American neighbors Venezuela and Colombia are connected through a common history. They share cultural values, geographical similarities, and a large land border. The present paper is set out to show the dimensions of the two countries’ binational bonds since their very beginning. It focuses on recurring issues treated differently during changing presidencies and seeks to analyze the reasons behind these issues that lead to seemingly insurmountable tensions. The article furthermore seeks to analyze why bilateral relations have been rather conflictive than cooperative in the past three decades and what have been the decisive factors, taking into consideration the main actors, namely the Colombian and Venezuelan presidents.

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Footnotes
1
In the Battle of Boyacá on August 7, 1819, Simón Bolívar’s troops reached the decisive victory over the Spanish forces and thus secured the former Viceroyalty of Nueva Granada’s final independence. It was followed by the victories in Carabobo (Venezuela) on July 24, 1821; Pichincha (Ecuador) on May 24, 1822; and Junín and Ayacucho (Peru) on August 6 and December 9, 1924 (König 2008: 61, 62, 67, 68).
 
2
This was even more important because Spain refused to renounce its sovereignty over the former colonies, despite Gran Colombia’s de facto independence.
 
3
Ejército de Liberación Nacional (National Liberation Army).
 
4
There were 8 types of binational commissions between 1989 and 1999 working on the following subjects: Political (4 commissions); Border (6 commissions); Catchment Areas (6); Security (4); Drug Trafficking (2); Economy (8); Energy (2); Culture (4). For detailed information on all commissions see Ramírez et al. (1999: 190–206).
 
5
Colombia’s now-defunct intelligence agency, DAS, spied on the Supreme Court, journalists, human rights defenders, and politicians. The scandal was discovered in 2008.
 
6
This trend, however, was reversed when Maduro assumed the Venezuelan presidency several years later.
 
7
Five bilateral commissions were created in August 2010 to address issues such as debt payment to Colombian industrialists, economic cooperation, social investment on the border, security, infrastructure, energy, and tourism. Several of the presidential and foreign ministers’ meetings were aimed at evaluating the commissions’ progress (Márquez Restrepo, 2016: 557).
 
8
They first met in July 2013 in Venezuela (Cancillería Colombia), then on the sidelines of the BRICS summit in Brazil in July 2014 (Cancillería Colombia), in August 2014 in Colombia (Cancillería Colombia), in September 2015 in Ecuador (El Tiempo, 21 September 2015) and finally in August 2016 in Venezuela (Cancillería Colombia).
 
9
Following a confusing incident in which members of the Venezuelan Armed Forces were wounded allegedly by Colombian paramilitaries.
 
10
For issues related to (1) politics and security, (2) trade and finance, (3) social issues and borders, (4) infrastructure, (5) transportation, and (6) telecommunications.
 
11
Márquez Restrepo is director of the Colombia’ Center for Popular Research and Education (CINEP). Her research interests include Venezuelan domestic politics and Colombia-Venezuela binational relations (CINEP, 2021).
 
12
Because the island could not function without the 100,000 barrels per day that Venezuela used to sell it with a financing of 40% for a term of 25 years and an interest rate of 1%. Nor would it have been easy for Cuba to survive without the remittances it received for the over-invoiced services of doctors and other professionals working in the US, which represent about 30% of Cuban GDP (Márquez Restrepo, 2016: 559).
 
13
I.e., tensions after a meeting between Juan Manuel Santos and Henrique Capriles after the latter’s defeat in presidential elections; Colombian complaints regarding the bad treatment of former President Andres Pastrana, who tried to visit Leopoldo López.
 
14
IMF data on inflation in Venezuela since Maduro presidency: 2013: 41%, 2014: 62%, 2015: 122%, 2016: 255%, 2017: 438%, 2018: 65.374%, 2019: 19.902%, 2020: 2.355%, 2021: 2.700% (estimation), 2022: 2.000% (estimation)—source: Statista (11 November 2021).
 
15
Duque disapproved of the negotiations for a return to democracy in Venezuela that were held in Barbados in 2019, calling them a bad precedent for humanity while accusing Maduro of intending to manipulate his elections only seeking to have sanctions lifted.
 
16
In January 2019 Juan Guaidó, the president of Venezuela’s National Assembly, who had frequently met with Colombian President Duque, proclaimed himself interim president of Venezuela. At that time, food, medicine, and other utensils were urgently needed in Venezuela. Therefore, enormous aid was gathered and tried to enter Venezuela at various points. Maduro reiterated that there was no humanitarian emergency and reacted violently. On February 23, 2019, Maduro announced the severing of ‘all kinds of relations’ with Colombia and gave 24 h for all Colombian officials to withdraw from Venezuelan territory. Consequently, Colombia withdrew all of its personnel even though it did not recognize Maduro as legitimate president and announced that it was temporarily closing the crossing of the border bridges (BBC, 23 February 2019).
 
17
Caracas closed the border for vehicles in August 2015; for people it was suspended after relations broke down in February 2019, when Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaidó tried to enter his country with a caravan of humanitarian aid from Cúcuta, Colombia.
 
18
GDP contraction according to BTI: 2015: −6%, 2016: −17%, 2017: −14%, 2018: −18%.
 
19
This group is particularly interesting in search for a solution. It was founded in 2019 by almost 100 social organizations and more than 200 personalities from Colombia and Venezuela and promotes conflict resolution through negotiation with the participation of citizens. Specifically, this plural and multifaceted initiative for a binational and regional ‘diplomacy of the citizens’ aims to support the dialogue and agreements between different social and political sectors of both countries for a political and peaceful solution in Venezuela and beyond that build bridges between the two nations and their people (https://​puentescolombiav​enezuela.​org).
 
20
Migración Colombia counted 1.842.390 Venezuelan migrants and refugees by August 31, 2021 (Migración Colombia, 26 October 2021).
 
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Metadata
Title
Difficult but Necessary: Venezuela-Colombia Relations Throughout Time—A Historical Depiction of Two Specially Connected Neighbors
Author
Alexandra Gericke
Copyright Year
2023
DOI
https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-031-21889-7_11