President Ivan Duque rejected a decision by Colombia’s Senate to create a bilateral commission that seeks to reestablish ties with Venezuela.
In a press conference with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, Duque said that he wouldn’t recognize the “disgraceful dictatorship” of his Venezuelan counterpart Nicolas Maduro.
Venezuela’s president expressed his support for the initiative of the Colombian Senate to “normalize” relations.
We applaud this initiative taken by the legislature of Colombia and the legislature of Venezuela.
Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro
One thing we cannot be mistaken about is that Colombia will not recognize a disgraceful, corrupt, drug-trafficking dictatorship.
Colombian President Ivan Duque
The proposed commission
Senate President Juan Diego Gomez (Conservative Party) sent the chairman of Venezuela’s National Assembly, Jorge Rodriguez, a proposal to create a bilateral commission to reestablish diplomatic and trade ties.
According to Gomez, reestablishing ties between the two neighboring countries “is an issue that doesn’t have political ideology, it’s a commercial issue.”
Rodriguez said that the National Assembly would be debating the proposal in an extra session on Thursday.
The initiative of the Green Alliance opposition party received unanimous support in Colombia’s Senate on Tuesday.
The border crisis
The plan sought to forcibly enter Venezuela with “humanitarian” aid from the US, but failed after the convoy led by Venezuelan lawmaker Juan Guaido got stuck on the border.
Duque has since refused to consider any reestablishment of ties with Caracas, implying this would recognize Maduro’s disputed 2016 reelection.
The breaking down of ties sunk the border region, which largely relies on trade, into a major crisis.
The border region effectively full under the control of illegal armed groups that took advantage of the suspended cooperation of security forces.
Normalization without Duque
Duque’s grandstanding doesn’t change the fact that the government must do whatever the legislative says whether the increasingly authoritarian president likes it or not.
The Senate also doesn’t need approval to advance exploratory talks from Duque, who is set to leave office in August next year.
If Venezuelan lawmakers decide to engage in exploratory talks with their counterparts from Bogota, a possible agreement to reestablish ties would likely take a while.
If Duque decides to insist on maintaining broken ties with Caracas, this would only delay the possible normalization of diplomatic ties with a few months.