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NGO demands that Colombia not collude with human rights violations in Venezuela

The NGO Human Rights Watch released this Monday (24) a letter addressed to the president of Colombia, Gustavo Petro, in which it asked that the president leftist does not turn a blind eye to human rights violations in Venezuela due to the reestablishment of relations between the two countries.

Petro assumed the Colombian presidency in early August, and days later announced the resumption of diplomatic ties with Caracas. In September, he was in the department of Norte de Santander for the formal reopening of the border with Venezuela, closed to vehicle traffic for seven years.

Another point of this rapprochement is that the dictatorship of Nicolás Maduro will be one of the guaranteeing countries (the others will be Cuba and Norway) for the peace talks between the government of Colombia and the guerrilla group the National Liberation Army (ELN), which will officially resume in November.

“Colombia’s relationship with Venezuela should not be seen as a reason to remain silent about human rights violations and the country’s humanitarian crisis,” HRW pointed out in the letter released on Monday. .

“The full re-establishment of functional diplomatic and consular relations, including any military cooperation, requires the adoption of progressive measures by the Colombian and Venezuelan governments, and this situation must be seen as an opportunity to obtain concrete commitments those on human rights by the Venezuelan authorities, such as the release of all persons who have been arbitrarily detained or allowing international monitors to visit persons arbitrarily detained in intelligence service facilities,” the NGO added.

“In this regard, we welcome reports that you have urged the Venezuelan government to become a party to the American Convention on Human Rights again, and we urge you to take these efforts much further,” pondered HRW.

The NGO highlighted that Colombia was “exemplary” in receiving a large part of refugees from the Venezuelan diaspora and offering them legal status, but the letter expresses concern about the possibility of an eventual leniency with Maduro by the new government of Bogotá.

“ We were disappointed to see that your government was not part of the core group of governments from across the political spectrum—Brazil, Canada, Chile, Ecuador, Guatemala, and Paraguay—that spearheaded efforts to extend the mandate of the International Fact-Finding Mission on Venezuela. In 2019, Colombia was part of the core group that led to the creation [dessa missão]. Chile, another Latin American country that changed leadership and now has a left-wing government, remained in the core group”, lamented HRW.

The NGO makes four recommendations in the letter to the Petro government: promoting the progress of human rights in Venezuela; secure meaningful negotiations to restore the rule of law in the neighboring country; confront violence and human rights abuses on the border between the two nations (a region where the ELN and other guerrillas operate); and combating human trafficking.

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