Venezuela has paid less than a quarter of its debt to Colombian businesses, reported Venezuelan newspaper El Universal Sunday.
According to the opposition newspaper, Venezuela owes Colombian businesses a total of $1.19 billion, of which, according to El Universal, to date it has repaid $268 million. This equates to just 22.59% of its total debt.
“The rate of payment has been slower than initially expected. According to reports from businessmen of both countries, Venezuela has only paid USD 268 million (22.59 percent), out of the USD 1.19 billion initially established as the total amount of debt,” wrote the paper.
Colombia’s debt to Venezuela was always set at approximately $800 million.
Colombia’s ambassador to Venezuela, Jose Fernando Bautista, contradicted El Universal while speaking on RCN Radio Monday, claiming that Venezuela had in fact repaid 40% of its debt owing to Colombia. which equates to $230 million.
Bautista also contradicted statements made in December when he claimed that 50% of the debt had already been repaid.
According to Venezuelan authorities, an audit of debt claims set the actual debt at $700 million.
Following intense labor we have certified the pending payments. The existing accumulated debt is $700 million of which $365 has been paid,” Minister Nicolas Maduro said in February.
The debt was incurred when — following clashes with Colombia’s then-President Alvaro Uribe — Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez froze trade with Colombia in July 2010 and Venezuelan importers stopped paying outstanding debts to Colombian exporters.
After Colombia’s current President Juan Manuel Santos and Chavez took the first steps to normalize relations, Venezuela began revising and paying these debts.