UN envoy warns Colombia-Venezuela row threatens peace talks

Tensions over border crisis between Colombia and Venezuela that have left three soldiers and thousands of Colombians expelled from Venezuela have threatened peace talks.

UN envoy warns Colombia-Venezuela row threatens peace talks

World Bulletin / News Desk

 A diplomatic rift and border crisis between Colombia and Venezuela presents a "very serious" threat to on-going peace dialogues between Colombian and a guerrilla group, a UN representative said Monday.

"A problem with Venezuela that could affect any commitments to the peace process would be regrettable at this moment when it really seems that the process is advancing," said Fabrizio Hochschild, UN resident coordinator in Colombia.

"Venezuela has played a very important role on the way to achieving peace in Colombia," Hochschild told AFP, while citing Buenos Aires’ "discreet" position in enabling the dialogues that began in Havana in November 2012 between the Colombian government and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC).

Tensions were sparked Aug. 19 between the neighboring countries when Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro closed part of the border following an attack on Venezuelan forces that left three soldiers dead. The soldiers were on a mission to thwart the flow of Venezuela government-subsidized products such as gasoline, that are often smuggled across the 2,200-kilometer (1,380-mile) border into Colombia where they are sold for profit.

Maduro blamed the deaths on "Colombian paramilitary" members, an accusation which has been widely rejected in Bogota.

The diplomatic row, which has resulted in more than 1,000 Colombians expelled from Venezuela and an estimated 9,000 more leaving for fear of reprisals by the Venezuelan National Guard, will be addressed Monday by the Organisation of American States. The issue will also be tackled later this week during a meeting of the Union of South American Nations in Quito, Ecuador.

Colombia and Venezuela have each recalled their ambassadors and Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos has come under pressure because of the resulting humanitarian crisis caused by thousands of Colombians displaced from Venezuela that has split up families. Santos has so far resisted calls from ex-presidents Álvaro Uribe and Andrés Pastrana to exclude Venezuela from peace dialogues with FARC rebels.

In response to the expulsions, Colombia’s Foreign Minister Angela Maria Holguin announced Sunday that any Venezuelans separated from their families by Maduro’s measures will be granted Colombian citizenship.

Güncelleme Tarihi: 01 Eylül 2015, 09:10