Venezuela’s Justice Minister Tarek El Aissami said Monday that he hopes that his nation and Colombia’s next government will “respect each other like brothers” and that the new president will abandon “agendas of war.”
El Aissami said that Venezuela “votes for peace in Colombia” and that Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez hopes to work with Colombia’s new administration “on joint projects, as brother populations.”
This is the socialist government’s first direct public comment on the outcome of Colombia’s first round presidential elections on Sunday. Chavez has remained uncharacteristically silent since the results were announced, saying only that he hoped that “God lights the way for the people of Colombia to find the path to peace.”
Santos said Monday he hopes to restore good relations with Venezuela and Ecuador if he wins.
Chavez has called Santos “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 has attempted to soothe concerns that his election may lead to conflict with Venezuela, 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, a sentiment he repeated on Monday.
Relations between Chavez and Uribe have been rocky for years, 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 Chavez calls a threat to Venezuela.
Given that no candidate received the majority vote needed to win the first round election outright, the two most popular candidates, Santos and the Green Party’s Antanas Mockus, will now face-off in a second round election scheduled for June 20.
In Sunday’s election Santos won 46.56% of the vote while Mockus came second with 21.49%.