Santos, Colombia ‘can count on Venezuela for anything’: Maduro

Nicolas Maduro (Photo: El Despertador de Oriente)

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro responded to an assassination attempt on a Colombian presidential candidate by offering any and all support to his Colombian counterpart, according to a national newspaper.

Maduro did not give any indication of what sort of help Colombia might require from its neighbor, but the gesture has been perceived as an olive branch after relations between the two countries took a bitter turn last week over the Venezuelan government’s violent response to ongoing demonstrations throughout the country.

“[Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos and I] have cultivated a relation of permanent conversation, that is very frank in private,” Maduro reportedly said on Venezuelan news station VTA Sunday afternoon. “Sometimes there are little problems and errors that are committed that must be taken care of, but I have said to President Santos that he can count on Venezuela for anything.”

The Venezuelan head of state presented a very different tone from his statements toward Santos last week, after Santos called for calm in a domestic situation in Venezuela of increasing violence and political unrest.

Maduro shot back at the time, saying that, “the problems of the Venezuelans will be solved by the Venezuelans.” He also went as far as to accuse Colombians to be behind many of the anti-government protests that have prompted strong police retaliation.

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Following Sunday’s failed assassination attempt in Colombia on leftist presidential candidate Aida Avella, Maduro’s tone was conciliatory.

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The Venezuelan president said, “the attack against the presidential candidate was very worrying,” going on to reaffirm his country’s support for ongoing peace talks between the Colombian government and the country’s oldest living rebel group, the FARC.

“Colombia is looking for peace, and there we are helping, and we are going to continue helping […] I call upon all of the small towns in Colombia to continue supporting peace, and to count on us.”

Colombia and Venezuela have had a choppy relationship in recent years, especially during the presidency of Colombia’s Alvaro Uribe Velez, who openly clashed with the late Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, going so far as to support the coup d’etat that temporarily ousted the socialist icon.

Under Santos, relations have improved greatly, though Maduro’s reaction last week reveals some of the latent hostility that still exists between the Andean neighbors.


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