Colombia president, Juan Manuel Santos, on Monday said he hopes for continued Venezuelan support regarding negotiations with his country’s largest rebel group, FARC, even if the ailing Venezuelan president dies.
Santos, speaking to Caracol Radio, said he was confident that Venezuelan vice president, Nicolas Maduro, would continue to support Colombia’s quest for peace, should he become president after Chavez’s potential demise.
“President Chavez is a person who has contributed a lot for us to be where we are at this moment. I’m optimistic, [that] if Maduro is the person to replace Chavez, [Colombia will have] continued Venezuelan support,” said Santos.
Maduro, a former bus driver and union boss-turned-politician, has played a key role in promoting peace talks between the FARC and the Colombian government.
Colombia’s nearly 50-year old conflict has hit Venezuelan border areas hard. FARC and Colombia’s second largest rebel group, ELN, are believed to have a significant presence on the Venezuelan side of the border, while Colombian drug trafficking and neo-paramilitary groups have reportedly been fighting over crucial drug trafficking routes in several Venezuelan states.