The keys to the reopening of the Colombian-Venezuelan border

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By Jaime Ortega and Sabela Bello |

Caracas/Bogotá (EFE).- Colombia and Venezuela are united again by the common border which was reopened this Monday, after seven long years which have accentuated the differences between the two countries, whose political interests have prevailed over the common economy, shared security or social welfare of compatriots residing or migrating in the opposing nation.

Dozens of people cross the Simón Bolívar bridge, which connects the border between Venezuela and Colombia, today, in San Antonio (Venezuela). EFE / Rayner Pena R.

Now, with the arrival of Gustavo Petro to replace Iván Duque as Colombia’s president, Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro feels more comfortable and confident in recovering what has been lost along the way. , and his counterpart from the Andean country sees an opportunity to win the unconditional support of a nation with inexhaustible resources, although little recognized by the international community.

Here are five keys to shared and special interests across the historic border and diplomatic reopening:

Several people cross the Simón Bolívar bridge, which connects the border between Venezuela and Colombia. EFE / Rayner Pena R.

1. Economical

The economy of both countries is one of the sectors that will benefit the most from the reopening of the border because it will allow the free movement of goods, mainly that Colombia produces and that Venezuela needs, such as food, pharmaceuticals and toiletries, as well as shoes and garments.

Bilateral trade, which hit a record $7.2 billion in 2008, plummeted after the border was closed and Maduro expects it to hit $2 billion this year.

According to the regional director of the Colombo-Venezuelan Chamber, Víctor Méndez, the reopening of the border brings benefits such as the reactivation of more than 10,000 direct and indirect jobs in the next three months due to the expected increase in trade. that Petro is confident about. this

2. Policy

For Maduro, the victory of the left in Colombia represents a double catapult, unthinkable barely a year ago: on the one hand, he wins the support of one of the most important countries in the Latin American region and, on the on the other hand, he sees how the opposition Juan Guaidó is left without the umbrella that sheltered him, with privileges, for more than three years, with the Duke in the presidency.

And Petro, a newcomer to power and required to demonstrate his political skills and his capacity for dialogue, especially in his relations with historically more complex governments, found in Venezuela the ideal interlocutor to test his skills. So far he has shown signs of being a good strategist, and the latest is the reopening of the border.

Several people cross the Simón Bolívar bridge, which connects the border between Venezuela and Colombia, today, in San Antonio (Venezuela). EFE / Rayner Pena R.

3. Social

Both Venezuelans living in Colombia and Colombians in Venezuela left their respective countries, probably at very different times, in search of a better life which they did not always find. And as if that were not enough, the closure of the border more than seven years ago and the severance of diplomatic relations more than three years ago have made their existence even more complicated, if possible.

Now, with the passage open, with embassies and consulates where they can update their documents, they will ease the heavy burden that the foreign country has placed on their shoulders. Faced with this situation, the two Governments have the opportunity to show how much they care about their compatriots and their well-being. Expectations are high, so it’s up to them both to indulge with theirs.

4. Diplomatic

The reopening of the border is undoubtedly a triumph of diplomacy after years of political and ideological tensions and revives the spirit of integration of the two countries which in the past were together in the Andean Community (CAN) and with Mexico were part of the Group of Three (G-3).

From the “diplomatic headquarters” in Maduro, Colombia has moved on to the discourse of fraternity and joint work which will be reflected in the medium and long term not only in the economy but also in migratory flows and border security.

“Globalization is above all a relationship between neighbours; anyone who sees international trade flows, cultural flows, population flows, will always see that the greatest amount is done between neighbours,” Petro said today.

5. “Aesthetics”

While Colombia is better positioned in terms of international recognition, Venezuela still has a long way to go. Opposition Juan Guaidó’s stint in public life and the support he has received from abroad have left Maduro in an awkward position compared to the majority of his foreign counterparts, who have ignored him as president. .

Presidential stints in recent years in Latin America, with a sharp leftward shift, have helped Maduro gain positions. But it was Petro’s arrival that gave him the most sparkle and helped him take big steps towards reclaiming a lost image. Reconciliation, the recovery of Monómeros and the opening of the border return part of the lost luster to Venezuela.

Web editor: Natalia Sarmiento

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