Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos said Tuesday before his meeting with Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez that the two countries have the same destiny and must work to strengthen their relationship.
“We were born 200 years ago and we have had our differences, yes, but our destinies are the same,” Santos said. “We have to work together if we want, 200 years later, to liberate ourselves from another oppression, the oppression of poverty and inequality.”
The two leaders are meeting in Caracas, in the second time that the two heads of state have met since Santos took office August 7. The meeting also marks a step in the re-establishment of diplomatic relations between the two countries. Venezuela broke diplomatic ties with Colombia in July following Colombia’s allegations before the Organization of American States that Venezuela was harboring guerrilla camps.
The Colombian president emphasized that it is the responsibility of both men to work together to benefit the people of both nations.
“If we are going to fight, our people will be the ones who lose out,” Santos said.
Chavez said that he and his Colombian counterpart respect their differences but want to strengthen ties.
“What should be important to us today, tomorrow and always are our challenges and commitments,” Chavez said. “Only together can we carry on the Patria Grande,” referring to the pre-1830 period when Colombia, Venezuela, Peru and Ecuador were a single country.
The two presidents will also discuss trade, border security and social development at their meeting.