The international community reacted with concern over Venezuela’s decision to break all ties with Colombia, following evidence presented to the Organization of American States of the presence of 87 guerrilla camps in Venezuela. There was an overwhelming call for the two neighbor states to attempt to repair relations.
United Nations (UN) Secretary General Ban Ki-moon on Thursday called for Colombia and Venezuela to resolve their differences “through dialogue” and asked for “moderation from all camps, so that the situation can be resolved peacefully.”
U.S. State Department spokesman Philip Crowley said Thursday that Washington was critical of Venezuela’s move. “I don’t think that severing ties or communication is the proper way to achieve that end,” Crowley said.
“Colombia’s allegations need to be taken very seriously,” the State Department told AFP in a written statement.
“Venezuela has an obligation to Colombia and to the international community to fully investigate this information and move to prevent the use of its sovereign territory by terrorist groups,” the State Department wrote.
“It is the expectation of all members of the inter-American community that all countries fulfill that commitment,” the statement read.
The Spanish government also expressed its concern and said it was disposed to aid in the renegotiation of diplomatic relations.
The French government called for a dialogue between the feuding South American nations.
Brazilian President Luis “Lula” Da Silva expressed his concern over the diplomatic crisis. The Brzailian leader reportedly called Chavez to tell him that Brazil is “disposed to contribute to help overcome the differences between Colombia and Venezuela,” according to a Brazilian government press release.
Lula and Chavez agreed to discuss the crisis when the Brazilian president visits Caracas on August 6.
The president of the Dominican Republic, Leonel Fernandez, offered to mediate between the neighbor nations, as he has offered to do in the past.
“Next week I will receive the President-elect [Juan Manuel] Santos in the Dominican Republic and that will be an opportunity to speak with him in private about these issues and the see if we can somehow contribute to harmonizing relations between these two brother nations,” Fernandez said.
Ecuador has vetoed that OAS Secretary General Jose Miguel Insulza mediate the process to re-establish severed ties and blamed the official for the diplomatic rupture.
At a press conference, Ecuadorean Foreign Minister Ricardo Patiño criticized Insulza for not postponing Colombia’s presentation to the OAS on the guerrilla presence in Venezuela, as Ecuador had requested. The Ecuadorean ambassador to OAS, Francisco Proaño, resigned Wednesday over the issue
Ecuadorean President Rafael Correa on Thursday said that Chavez had asked him to call an “emergency” meeting of the Union of South American Nations (UASUR) to “condemn the serious agressions” that Bogota has levelled at Caracas.
Correa also criticized Insulza for “pressuring for [the debate] to happen without first consulting what the rules say and… now you can see the consequences. Of course Jose Miguel Insulza bears a great responsibility for that.”
Bolivian President Evo Morales defended Chavez’s decision to break all relations and labelled Colombian President Alvaro Uribe a “lackey of imperialism.”
Reactions within Venezuela
Opposing sectors to the Chavez administration within Venezuela criticized their leader’s decision, while business leaders called for the bilateral crisis be handled with “consideration.”
The leader of Venezuelan opposition party Primero Justicia, Julio Borges, said that Chavez had broken relations in order to distract from the nation’s internal problems.
“Chavez has a military mentality. He always needs an enemy and if he doesn’t have one, he invents one,” Borges said, and asked the Venezuelan leader “not to use” the dispute with Colombia for “political gain.”
The secretary general of the Copei-Partido Popular, Luis Carlos Solorzano, asked Chavez to allow an international mission into Venezuela to verify Colombia’s claims of a guerrilla presence.
“Neither God not any nation in the world would forgive, if this were certain, because these groups do enormous harm to their own people,” Solorzano said.
The president of the Venezuelan Federation for Commerce and Production, Noel Alvarez, said on Thursday that “the ideological confrontations between the presidents have hurt us, above all the people, because the Palacio de Miraflores and the Casa de Nariño have policies, but those who benefit or suffer are the people.
Chavez broke all relations with Colombia on Thursday, following Colombia’s presentation to the OAS. He closed the Colombian embassy in Caracas and gave diplomatic staff 72 hours to leave the country.
The Venezuelan government has always vehemently denied allegations that rebels are hiding in its territory and has denounced Colombia’s decision to publicly present the evidence as “a pathetic media show.”
Venezuela first froze diplomatic relations in 2009, after Colombia signed an agreement granting the U.S. military access to seven Colombian army bases. Chavez has consistently expressed his belief that the pact is an attempt to undermine regional sovereignty.
Before Colombia announced it had proof of guerrilla presence in Venezuela, Chavez had taken steps towards repairing diplomatic ties and the leader has not dismissed the possibility of reconciliation when Santos’ administration takes office on August 7.
Thursday evening Chavez expressed a hope that with a new Colombian administration may come a new era in bilateral relations between the neighboring nations.
“God willing, Santos will be flooded with the spirit of Latin America and will understand that here the governments of the right and the left can live in harmony. We have an obligation to,” Chavez said, adding that after August 7 there could be “a process of rapprochement.”
Santos has declined to comment on the issue.