The Venezuelan government on Tuesday published a press release congratulating Juan Manuel Santos on his win in Sunday’s Colombian presidential election, saying it will be “attentive” to the possibility of reshaping bilateral relations with Colombia based on “sincerity and respect.”
In the press release the Venezuelan government also expresses “the aspiration to contribute to internal peace in Colombia, as a key factor in the peace and integration in the region.”
In his acceptance speech Sunday, Santos spoke of a Latin America “united in the generation of prosperity and well-being.”
“Diplomacy and respect will be the core of our international relations… I invite [other nations] to open up paths, for the good of our people,” Santos said.
Colombia and Venezuela have a history of rocky relations, but frictions have worsened in recent months over Colombia’s agreement to give the U.S. increased access to its military bases – a deal that Venezuela views as a threat to the region.
Relations between outgoing Colombian President Alvaro Uribe and Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez are particularly caustic. Uribe alleges that Chavez’s government has allowed Colombian rebels to take refuge inside Venezuela. Chavez, who has repeatedly rejected the allegations, complains of the spillover of Colombian’s internal conflict into Venezuelan territory.
Venezuela has said it will not begin to rebuild fractured ties with Colombia until Uribe leaves office.
However Chavez has also been outspoken in his dislike for Partido de la U candidate Juan Manuel Santos, calling the former defense minister “a threat to the region” and a “wolf dressed up as Little Red Riding Hood,” because of the way he is “going around searching for votes.”
Santos attempted to soothe concerns that his election may lead to conflict with Venezuela prior to his election, stating that although he and Chavez are “like water and oil,” if elected, he will “do everything possible to maintain the best relations” with the socialist nation.
Chavez said he would be the first to call to congratulate Colombia’s president-elect, but so far no such call has been reported in Colombian or Venezuelan media.
The Venezuelan leader received criticism for what Colombian presidential candidates labelled as “interference” in Colombia’s democratic process.