The president-elect of the Republic of Colombia, Gustavo Petro, reiterated his desire to normalize relations with Venezuela in order to ameliorate the economic development of the region.
“Relationships need to be normalized,” Petro said in an interview published Saturday, June 25 with Colombian news outlet Cambio. “Because we have been here for years, and there are difficulties in many issues. The border is my main concern, because there is severe lawlessness, very severe. There are also real possibilities,”
“Cúcuta is not an Andean town far from the sea,” Petro continued. “Cúcuta is a coastal town. It’s located an hour away from the sea, but the sea is on the other side (in Venezuela). So, how come we don’t take advantage of that to industrialize the territory? In other words, due to our political difficulties between nations, we do not not take advantage of an enormous benefit that exists there.”
Another issue that Petro addressed in the interview was that of the Venezuelan state-owned company Monómeros, which operates in Colombia and was unjustly handed over to former deputy Juan Guaidó by the administration of Colombia’s current president Iván Duque, actions that have been repeatedly denounced by Venezuela.
“Another immediate problem is Monómeros,” Petro said, “because no other than Monómeros—which is a company unknown to many Colombians, located in Barranquilla, and which is Colombian-Venezuelan with a Venezuelan majority—produces fertilizers, and today the fundamental problem of agriculture and hunger is fertilizers. The financial suffocation that this company has suffered has paralyzed it, and we are importing fertilizers at three times the value.”
In addition, Petro advocated the formation of a consensus among the progressive forces of Colombia who share common objectives, seek change, and wish to overcome divisiveness. He mentioned a series of urgent issues that he will attend to immediately, once his term officially begins on August 7.
He indicated that his government intends to “break with sectarianism, both from the right and from the left, for which it is necessary to speak with all sectors and build agreements.”
“What we have achieved—and there is a conversation that is already planned with Álvaro Uribe Vélez, there is another with Rodolfo Hernández—is basically to build a climate that I would call one of peace, of dialogue, without thinking of unanimity, because that is not going to never exist in a humane society,” said the president-elect.
In addition, Petro spoke of his tense relationship with the military and police, his comprehensive peace plan, and a proposal that he will make to the United States to modify extradition agreements.
The president-elect expressed his opinion that “the national accord has to be generated in spaces that are not only parliamentary, that are social; where there is also politics, obviously.”
“I would like the regional ones to face the conflict from the outset,” said Petro, “because the conflict we have today has regional characteristics. It cannot be dealt with homogeneously at the national level.”
Regarding peace in Colombia, Petro announced that he has asked the Catholic Church to establish channels for a comprehensive peace process throughout Colombia.
“Comprehensive means that it is not simply regarding what is still considered ‘insurgency’ today, but open to everything that includes the use of illegal weapons,” said Petro. “We are going to make it official. I believe that the Catholic Church today must play a fundamental role in building peace in Colombia.”
Translation: Orinoco Tribune