Final preparations are underway between the governments of Colombia and Venezuela to formally reopen the land border on Monday, September 26. According to sources, President Gustavo Petro and his counterpart Nicolás Maduro will meet at the Simón Bolívar bridge to mark the occasion.
The international border has been closed for seven years, expect for pedestrian movement of residents living in the cities of Cúcuta, departmental capital of Norte de Santander, and San Antonio del Táchira. Should the meeting take place on Monday, it would be the first face-to-face encounter between Petro and Maduro as heads of state. Colombia’s Minister of Transport, Guillermo Reyes, assured journalists during a trip to Caracas that Maduro is expected at a ceremony that will include the first movement of cargo trucks.
The opening of the land border to cargo and private vehicles will be followed with the first commercial flights between Bogotá’s El Dorado and Caracas’ Simón Bolívar airport, starting October 3. Wingo, the subsidiary of Panama’s Copa Airlines and Venezuela’s state-owned airline Conviasa will reactivate the route, while Avianca has also announced a return to the Venezuelan capital later in the year.
The complete restoration of diplomatic relations and connectivity between Colombia and Venezuela also brings the Colombian President has been welcomed by the Kremlin and Russian leader Vladimir Putin. Hours after Petro delivered his first address before the United Nations General Assembly in New York in which he did not condemn the invasion of Ukraine by Russia, Putin welcomed Colombia’s new Ambassador to the Federation, Héctor Arenas. “We share the recent words of President Petro on the constructive approach to the intensification of relations in the spheres of trade, energy, infrastructure, science and technology, education and culture,” remarked Putin from Moscow.
The Russian leader also described Colombia’s first leftist President as a “promising partner of Russia in Latin America.” The Kremlin also highlighted the importance of maintaining “friendly relations” with Colombia, and support peace talks with the Marxist ELN guerrilla and FARC dissident groups.