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Venezuela to propose Colombia peace plan

posted by Tom Davenport
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Nicolas Maduro, venezuela

Venezuela’s Foreign Minister Nicolas Maduro announced Sunday that his country will make its neighbor a peace offer at the Union of South American Nations (UNASUR) summit on Thursday.

Speaking near Venezuela’s eastern border with Colombia, in the city of San Antonio del Tachira, Maduro told press that he would put forward the peace plan. He did not mention whether his government’s proposal would involve forbidding the presence of Colombian guerrilla groups on Venezuelan soil.

In spite of this offer, Maduro issued a condemnation of the outgoing administration of Colombian President Alvaro Uribe and explained Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez’s decision last Thursday to break relations with his neighbor.

“We broke relations with a government which is finishing very badly, totally isolated in Latin America, spurned by the peoples of the continent, investigated for large-scale killings and massacres, yet also defeated by war; war has defeated Uribe,” Maduro said.

Nevertheless, the Venezuelan politician evoked “a spirit of brotherhood, of comprehension and great desires of the people, both on the Colombian and on the Venezuelan side, that the situations brought to us by the Uribe goverment be overcome.”

Alluding to the incoming administration of Colombian President-elect Juan Manuel Santos, which will begin its term on August 7, Maduro expressed a hope that the new leadership would bring “a great rectification” in policy.

In addition to the representatives of Colombia and Venezuela, the UNASUR summit will bring together the foreign ministers of Ecuador, Argentina, Bolivia, Chile, Guyana, Paraguay, Peru, Uruguay, Surinam and Brazil.

Chavez made the decision to break all ties, following documents presented to the Organization of American States on the presence of 87 guerrilla camps in Venezuela.

Colombia is now considering whether to take its evidence of numerous FARC and ELN camps in Venezuela to the International Criminal Court (ICC), arguing that the guerrillas commit crimes against humanity and then seek refuge over the border.

Colombia and Venezuela have a long history of strained relations. Colombia has hinted in the past that it suspects Venezuela of harboring left-wing wing guerrillas, while Venezuela has complained of the spillover of Colombia’s lengthy conflict into its borders.

Relations between the neighbor nations were frozen in 2009, after Colombia signed a controversial military pact, which grants the U.S. access to seven military bases around Colombia. The socialist Chavez administration views the pact as a threat to regional sovereignty.

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