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Colombia-Venezuela relations

Colombia-Venezuela relations refers to the diplomatic relations between the Republic of Colombia and the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela. The relationship has developed since the early 1500s, when Spanish empire colonizers created the Province of Santa Marta (now Colombia) and the Province of New Andalucia (now Venezuela). The countries share a history for achieving their independence under Simon Bolivar and becoming one nationthe Gran Colombiawhich dissolved in the 19th century.

Since the 20th century the relationship has evolved with up and downs mostly regarding the Colombia-Venezuela maritime territory dispute over the Gulf of Venezuela. The lowest point in the relationship occurred on August 19, 1987 after the Colombian Corvette ARC Caldas (FM-52) trespassed into disputed waters and then President of Venezuela, Jaime Lusinchi ordered the Venezuelan Air Force to the area and coerced the Colombians. The standoff was resolved through diplomatic channels but the dispute remained. Published in Power in Latin America (Issue 129/2004)

One of the main issues has been the large wave of Colombians that migrated to Venezuela in the 1970s and 1980s, working primarily in low-end jobs. Many Colombian immigrants were imprisoned in Venezuela under deplorable conditions, faced discrimination and endured human rights violations. The Colombian armed conflict has also provoked impasses between the two countries. Military illegal incursions by the the two countries' military forces into each others' territory have been frequent since the conflict in Colombia escalated in the 1980s, which subsequently triggered forced displacements in Colombia and into Venezuela. Illegally armed groups also trespassed into Venezuela to commit crimes. Contraband flows from one territory to another depending on supply and demand along the shared porous border of . Illegal products range from gasoline, drugs and weapons to stolen cars. Since 2002, the relationship between Colombia and Venezuela has fluctuated due to the ideological differences that separate Hugo Chavez and Alvaro Uribe. The relationship between the two countries once again reached a low point in November 2007 after a failed effort to achieve a humanitarian exchange, causing the relations to freeze.


These neighboring countries share a similar history as former colonies of the Spanish empire. During the colonial era the Guajira Peninsulainhabited then by the Wayuu indigenous groupresisted the invasion of the Spaniards coming from Santa Marta and New Andalusia. This situation prevented both colonies from delimiting their territories in the area. The Wayuu tribes were finally subdued by the end of the colonial period with the independence of both colonies in the early 19th century. The new independent territories began formal negotiations to divide the Guajira peninsula in a longitudinal manner. Negotiations continuously failed and the parties asked Spain to intervene. In 1891 the Spanish crown emitted a concept but failed once again to delimit the border because of confusing geographical locations.


;End of land border dispute

Bilateral negotiations continued; in 1922 the Swiss Federal Council was petitioned to give a second opinion, which did not occur. In 1939 the Venezuelan government issued a decree imposing a maritime border line from the village of Castilletes in Guajira Peninsula to Paraguana Peninsula which result in most of the Gulf belonging to Venezuela. The Colombian government reacted to this in the late 1940s asking the Venezuelan government to rectify and draw a meddle line in accordance with the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea.

In 1941 once again bilateral negotiations resumed settling the territorial border, but setting a new round of differences regarding the maritime territory.






Pedro Carmona

The relationship between the Hugo Chavez and Alvaro Uribe administrations has been marked by up and downs. After the 2002 Venezuelan coup d'etat attempt toppled Chavez for two days, Colombia offered asylum to Pedro Carmona. This angered the government of Hugo Chavez who requested extradition of Carmona. The Uribe administration promoted the previously implemented Plan Colombiaalong with the United Statesto the opposition of the government of President Chavez.

Rodrigo Granda

In 2004 the relationship became strained again in the Rodrigo Granda affair, with the kidnapping in Caracas of Colombian-Venezuelan naturalized guerrilla member Rodrigo Granda. Granda was transported by his captors to the border city of Cucuta in Colombia and taken into custody by the Colombian National Police on rebellion charges.

Post-humanitarian exchange negotiation

In late 2007 President Uribe, through his appointed negotiator Piedad Cordoba contacted Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez to facilitate the humanitarian exchange negotiations of prisoners for hostages between the government of Colombia and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia.

During the 2007 Ibero-American Summit in a private meeting Uribe told Chavez not to contact Colombian military commanders. Two weeks after the summit, Senator Piedad Cordoba got on the phone with the General of the Colombian National Army Mario Montoya Uribe. The issue was reported to Uribe who publicly announced the interruption of Chavez and Cordoba as facilitators.

Operation Emmanuel

While the relationship between the two governments continued strained on December 27, 2007 Chavez publicly said that he had a plan set up to rescue of three hostages promised to Chavez by the FARC guerrilla in compensation. This after Colombian president Uribe decided to end the mediation by Chavez and Piedad Cordoba.

Operation Emmanuel consisted on using Venezuelan aircrafts in coordination with the International Red Cross to fly into Colombia and rescue the hostages from the FARC.

Operation Road to Freedom

In February 2008, the Venezuelan government launched a new operation to liberate four more hostages held by the FARC: Luis Eladio Perez, Orlando Beltran, Gloria Polanco and Jorge Eduardo Gechem all of them former senators kidnapped by the FARC in order to pressure the Colombian government.

2008 South American diplomatic crisis

On March 1, 2008 the Colombian military launched an attack against FARC in the border area between Colombia and Ecuador, which ended with the death of some 19 guerrillas including the group's second in command Raul Reyes and one Colombian soldier. The attack targeted a guerrilla camp some 1.8 km inside Ecuadorean territory.

Colombian president Alvaro Uribe called the Ecuadorean president Rafael Correa, arguing that Colombian forces had crossed the border during combat in pursuit of the guerrillas. Correa said he would investigate the events and later accused the Colombian government of lying, recalling his ambassador in Bogota. The Colombian government subsequently apologized for its actions.

Reacting to the event, President Hugo Chavez stated that if Colombia launched a similar operation within Venezuelan borders he would consider it a casus belli and verbally attacked the Colombian president. Chavez ordered ten national guard battalions to the Colombia-Venezuela border and closed its embassy in Bogota. Chavez also offered his support to Ecuadorean president Correa.

The Venezuelan government on March 9 2008 announced it is re-establishing normal diplomatic ties with Colombia after the two South American countries resolved their differences over Colombia's recent cross-border attack on rebels in Ecuador.

See also

Foreign relations of Colombia

Foreign relations of Venezuela

External links

Colombian Ministry of Foreing Affairs

Venezuelan Ministry of Popular Power for Foreign Affairs

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This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article Colombia-Venezuela relations

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