Colombia’s President-elect Juan Manuel Santos Thursday declined to comment on Venezuela’s breaking of all ties with Colombia, saying “the best contribution that we can make is to not comment.”
Santos, who was in Mexico City as the first stop in his Latin American tour, refused to comment on Venezuela following a meeting with Mexican President Felipe Calderon. However the Colombian did say that his meeting with Calderon had been “agreeable and fruitful” and that the Latin leaders had agreed to work together to combat narco-trafficking in the region.
However Santos’ Vice President-elect Angelino Garzon said that the incoming administration will employ “all diplomatic mechanisms to improve and strengthen relations with all countries in the region, including Venezuela.”
“In the end, the message we have to give, as governments and as people, is the message of unity, of friendship, of cooperation and of peace,” Garzon said, who was speaking from Quito, following a meeting with his Ecuadorean counterpart Lenin Moreno.
Colombian Foreign Minister Jaime Bermudez also declined to comment on the Venezuela crisis, but said that the fight against terrorism must be “firm and prudent.”
Outgoing Colombian President Alvaro Uribe Thursday evening called an emergency meeting at the Casa de Nariño to evaluate the crisis. Minister for the Interior Fabio Valencia Cossio, acting Prosecutor General Guillermo Mendoza Diago, and Defense Minister Gabriel Silva attended the meeting, but did not speak to the press.
Colombia’s ambassador to Venezuela, Maria Luis Chiappe, who was recalled before the socialist nation severed ties on Thursday, also attended the meeting. “To break relations is one of the most serious acts that can done in diplomacy and for that reason it is a very serious and lamentable situation,” Chiappe said.
Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez broke all relations with Colombia Thursday, following Colombia’s presentation to the Organization of American States (OAS) of evidence of the presence of 87 guerrilla camps in Venezuelan territory.
Chavez 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.”