Colombia’s current and former vice presidents expressed opposing views Friday over ex-President Alvaro Uribe‘s meeting with Venezuelan opposition leaders.
Uribe spoke with members of the anti-Chavez Democratic Unity Board (MEU) in Bogota Thursday, saying that they should demand that Santos explain his close relationship to his Venezuelan counterpart.
Following the ex-president’s remark, Colombia’s vice president Angelino Garzon asked Uribe not to meddle in international affairs.
Garzon told the ex-president that there must be mutual respect with regards to Venezuela. “Just as we don’t want any country interfering in our affairs, we also have to not interfere in internal affairs of other countries,” the vice president stated.
The VP also reminded Uribe that Santos was the head of state, not him; and that “the head of international relations resides with the president.”
Garzon added, “Above all we are respectful of states and of the democratic decisions of the people over who should be their rulers, because international relations … cannot be based on ideological affinities or partisans of those in power.”
Meanwhile, Uribe’s former Vice President and current director of radio station RCN Radio, Francisco Santos, spoke of the meeting with the MEU in a positive light saying that “[the meeting] dealt with public policy issues on how to build bridges to society.”
The former VP, who also President Santos’ cousin, added, “It’s a meeting that is part of creating a whole new continental institution that wants to rise up to become a counterweight to this new political form which Chavez, [Nicaraguan president] Ortega, and [Ecuadorean president] Correa represent.”
According to the RCN director, 95% percent of the meeting dealt with how Colombia and Venezuela could improve relations and better combat drug trafficking.
He also warned the meeting might benefit Chavez by allowing him to isolate his opposition and accuse them of conspiracy.
President Santos will visit Venezuela on November 28 to meet with the Venezuelan president.
Commenting on the importance of the relationship between the two countries, Garzon remarked, “We share 2,300 kilometers [1,429 miles] of common border,” and “this reality forces us to understand and maintain cooperative relations.”