Venezuela President Nicolas Maduro on Friday said he had given “clear instructions” to his foreign minister to “take steps” towards ending tensions with Colombia.
The “mini-crisis” as one Colombian senator called it was caused Wednesday when Venezuelan opposition leader Henrique Capriles visited Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos and a number of top lawmakers.
The visit spurred a furious reaction from Maduro and other Venezuelan government officials, who are at odds with Capriles over the legitimacy of April’s presidential elections that Capriles said he lost to Maduro because of fraud.
Maduro said to be evaluating the relationship with Colombia and Venezuela’s claimed the visit was part of a conspiracy between Colombian and Venezuelan elites to overthrow his government. According to the Venezuelan head of state, he had lost confidence in Santos and was considering withdrawing his country’s support for peace talks between the Colombian government and FARC rebels.
Following days of silence, Santos on Friday called Maduro’s conspiracy theory “ridiculous” but insisted that tensions must be resolved diplomatically.
According to newspaper El Tiempo, Foreign Minister Maria Angela Holguin and the Colombian diplomatic corps on Thursday already had begun contacting Caracas to seek a diplomatic solution to Venezuela’s fury about Santos’ meeting with Capriles.
Appearing again on television Friday evening, Maduro said that his Foreign Minister, Elias Jaua “has clear instructions to take steps to the reconstruction of truth and respect within the relationship between both countries.”
“I have the best intentions to maintain good relations,” said Venezuela’s president.
Maduro, who had earlier accused former President Alvaro Uribe, “the Colombian oligarchy” and “Colombia’s establishment” of being part of the alleged conspiracy to topple him, this time accused Colombia’s media corporations of campaigning against him and his country. According to Maduro, “Colombia’s media elites are linked to political and economic elites.”
Venezuela has not spoken this harshly about its neighbor since Santos took office in August 2010 and made the improvement of the relationship between the two countries a top priority. Before Santos assumed power, Venezuela had frozen relations in 2010 over accusations by Uribe, who accused the Chavez administration of aiding the FARC.