Lais Araujo Couto e Suyá Paladino Linhares de Oliveira
Amid attempts to mediate distant conflicts, as in the case of Iran, Brazil finds itself in front of diplomatic tensions in the neighborhood of South America.
That is the case of the last and most controversial conflict between Colombia and Venezuela.
It’s been years and years of troubled relationship between Chavez´s Venezuela and the Colombia of Uribe.
Tensions rose last year after the U.S. and Colombia signed the Military Cooperation Agreement that allows the presence, in seven Colombian bases, of support troops and logistical equipment from the USA.
Chavez says this military agreement threatens the security of his country and the region, while Colombia argues that it will help in combating drug trafficking and guerrilla groups.
After many threats from both sides, Venezuela broke diplomatic relations with Colombia on 22/07/10, just at the end of the eight years administration of Uribe, after him, once again, presented evidences and accused Chavez of complicity with the FARC (Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia).
The main appeasing forces of the region came to try to extinguish the fire. In an extraordinary session of the OAS the “belligerent” parties repeated the rhetoric of accusations, without resolving the matter.
President Lula, often a mediator in conflict issues in South America since the creation of UNASUR, promised to talk with the presidents of both countries, but was reprimanded by Uribe as having a superficial position, when he stated that the conflict wasn’t really serious.
One question that we must emphasize is that this disruption affected brutally the migration and trade on the border between the countries.
The trade flow, decreased from 6 billion in 2008 to an estimated billion in 2010, hurting Colombia, which had reduced its exports and has lost about 750,000 jobs.
Venezuela has already entered into a crisis of shortages that can be characterized as one of the most significant in South America.
The dialogue was resumed when a new president – Juan Manuel Santos – was elected in Colombia, which according to experts initiates a new policy of flexible and open negotiations with neighbors and even with the FARC.
Venezuela was represented in Santo’s possession ceremony by its Foreign Minister Nicolas Maduro.
In his inaugural speech, Juan Manuel Santos restored normal relations with neighbors, especially with Ecuador, with which relations were broken off since 2008, before the invasion of Ecuadorian territory by Colombian military forces.
To end the fight between the neighbors, in 10/08/2010 in the Colombian city of Santa Marta, the current president of Colombia met Venezuela’s president and reestablished diplomatic relations.
Chavez has pledged to not allow the presence of Colombian guerrillas in Venezuela.
Moreover, the two presidents reached an agreement with respect to five issues: (1) the Venezuelan debt, (2) an agreement on economic complementation, (3) social investment program in the border area, (4) joint works infrastructure in the region, (5) and security in the border area between the two countries.
After many disputes and threats, it seems that the two countries have taken the government change in Colombia as an opportunity to share concerns: to avoid the situation of belligerency, to cooperate on common issues, especially in the border area, and demand that the FARC do not use within neighboring Colombia to secure its logistics capabilities.
President Lula and the Brazilian diplomacy gained status of good mediators. That victory, however, seems a bit far from the complexity of Iran or even in the face of political pacification of Honduras.
In South America, between the two neighbors, Brazilian diplomacy achieved a victory and peace returned to the agenda, hopefully for a long time.
Lais Araujo Couto and Suyá Paladino Linhares de Oliveira, students of the fourth period of the undergraduate course in International Relations, IH-UCAM and part of the PIC – Scientific Initiation Program. HI in CEAs, and are members of the WG III – Prevention and Resolution of Conflict, Group Analysis of International Conflict Prevention, under the coordination of prof. Clovis Brigagão