A meeting between Colombia President Juan Manuel Santos and his Venezuelan counter part Nicolas Maduro over a border conflict left the humanitarian crisis in the region unattended, Colombia’s conservative opposition decried Tuesday.
Santos and Maduro met in Quito, Ecuador on Monday, more than a month after Venezuela’s decision to close a border crossing and deport Colombians caused a humanitarian emergency on the Colombian side of the border.
The first meeting between the two leaders since the crisis unfolded turned out to be a marginally successful attempt to diplomatically resolve the border crisis.
“And what happens to the violation of human rights, the loss of personal possessions, and the expulsion and torture of Colombians?” former president and leader of opposition party Democratic Center (CD) Alvaro Uribe asked on Twitter.
Former presidential candidate Oscar Ivan Zuluaga, also of the CD, similarly undercut the meeting by claiming that “like everything in Santos’ government: He says one thing and does another, and now he expects a round of applause.”
Senator Juan Lozano, a member of Santos’ own U Party, highlighted the continuation of the border crisis where 17 thousand Colombians have been stranded in shelters after either being deported or fleeing the neighboring country.
“While Santos and Maduro met, the mayor of Cucuta reported a new violent incursion of Venezuelan border guards in our territory.”
The accusation followed days after the military reported that Venezuelan fighter jets had been spotted flying over Colombian territory.
Santos and Maduro agreed that on Wednesday in the Venezuelan capital Caracas, a commission of ministers and senior government officials from Colombia and Venezuela will begin the construction of an agenda in which each countries’ major problems connected with the border crisis will be discussed and investigations will be carried out.
Colombia’s humanitarian crisis, in which more that 10,000 nationals have been displaced from Venezula as a result of the border crisis, will allegedly be reviewed while Maduro’s alleged concerns of fuel and food smuggling, the exchange rate, drug trafficking and the supposed presence of Colombian paramilitaries in Venezuela will be discussed.
President Maduro has also allegedly agreed to have Colombian allegations investigated that Venezuelan ‘war planes’ violated Colombian airspace when planes reportedly flew over Colombian Army units stationed in La Flor in the northwestern province of La Guajira.
According to reports, if the talks and investigations beginning on Wednesday are successful, the date in which the border will be reopened will be decided, which will end currently more than one month of stagnant trade and severe social pressures on both sides.
Unlike the opposition, Santos and his supporters were positive about the outcome of the meeting, using Twitter to express their support for the meeting that was a “firm diplomatic achievement.”
“This was a peaceful, respectful and productive dialogue, and I am very pleased to be able to restore [a dialogue] with Venezuela,” said the president.
Senator Roy Barreras of the Social Party of National Unity noted Santos’ attitude as one of “firmness and sincerity.”
Claudia Lopez, member of the Green Alliance party was supportive, but also noted the humanitarian crisis. “Diplomacy went well today, but not for the Colombians at the border who continue to be closed off and separated from their families.”
Santos himself tweeted, “We have honoured the dialogue without denying the defense of our compatriots’ human rights! The details at the border are going to be investigated.”