Colombia’s President Gustavo Petro visited his authoritarian counterpart from Venezuela, Nicolas Maduro, for the first top-level meeting since the beginning of a migrant crisis in 2015.
Petro’s visit was part of ongoing attempts to improve bilateral relations between the the governments of the neighboring countries.
The last time a Colombian head of state met with Maduro was in August 2014 when the Venezuelan leader visited former President Juan Manuel Santos.
Maduro cut ties to Colombia in 2019 after a failed attempt to oust his government that was supported by Petro’s predecessor, former President Ivan Duque.
What was on the agenda
According to the Colombian president’s office, Petro and Maduro discussed the ongoing process to reopen borders and joint efforts to combat drug trafficking.
Maduro additionally agreed to take steps that would allow the Organization of American States to investigate human rights in Venezuela, said the Colombian government in a press release.
Last but not least, the two presidents talked about Venezuelan authorities’ cooperation with international efforts to preserve the Amazon rainforest in the south of the two countries.
Ahead of the visit, Petro said he also would discuss mass migration from Venezuela, but this thorny topic was left out of the press release that was released after the meeting to Caracas.
Why this matters
The agreement to join jointly combat transnational crime implies a restoration of ties between the two countries’ intelligence agencies.
Colombia’s defense minister was already talking with his Venezuelan counterpart about coordinated law enforcement in the border region.
These efforts could have a major impact on illegal armed groups from both countries that are involved in the international drug trade, illegal mining and money laundering.