The Government of Colombia is willing to reopen consular services in Venezuela, as long as it is done safely, President Iván Duque announced on Tuesday.
Duque insisted that he was willing to reopen consular services in Venezuela, suspended since 2019 when Nicolás Maduro expelled Colombian diplomats, only if safety conditions exist.
We are open to the fact that if there are conditions and if there are guarantees, that consular service can be reestablished, but, obviously, on the premise that there are all guarantees in terms of security, Duque told the Colombian media.
The President also underscored this policy should not be surprising since his country has always had a friendly attitude towards Venezuelan citizens. However, he warned, his government will never cease to denounce the abuses of the dictatorship of Nicolás Maduro and the coexistence between that dictatorship and Colombian terrorist groups.
We have had permanent consular services for Venezuela until our consuls were expelled by the dictatorship, said Duque, who also explained consular services are irrespective of which type of government is in place; it is about assisting citizens.
Maduro proposed at the end of January last year the reestablishment of relations at the consular level with Colombia. The proposal was then rejected by Duque, who considered there were very few guarantees in Venezuela.
Caracas broke diplomatic relations with Colombia on February 23, 2019, due to the support of the Duque government for self-acclaimed interim President Juan Guaidó's attempt to cross the border with humanitarian aid. On that occasion, Maduro gave the few Colombian consular officials remaining in Venezuela 24 hours to leave the country.
The reopening of the path between the two countries was announced earlier this week. In this scenario, Duque said his country was to welcome commercial transit, however under strict biosecurity measures to protect the Colombian people from COVID-19. The border was closed to the passage of vehicles in August 2015 by order of Caracas and the transit of people was suspended after February 23, 2019.
Last June, Colombia gradually reopened the land and river crossings with Venezuela, closed by the Duque government since March 2020 as part of the measures to contain the spread of the coronavirus.