BOGOTA, Colombia – Russia’s aggression against Ukraine comes as tensions between Colombia and Venezuela escalate.
Sergio Guzmán, the director of Colombia Risk Analysis, a political consultancy in Bogotá, said Russia has a close political and geostrategic alliance with the regime of Nicolás Maduro.
“Colombia has sought to build its close alliance with the United States and its status as a NATO global partner as a deterrent to any potential Venezuelan act of aggression,” Guzmán said.
On Thursday, Colombian President Ivan Duque condemned Russian President Vladimir Putin’s decision to deploy troops to Ukraine. During his televised speech, Duque said he was concerned about foreign actors’ intervention during Colombia’s presidential election on May 29.
Wendy Sherman, the deputy secretary of state, later told Marta Lucia Ramirez, Colombia’s vice president and foreign minister, that President Joe Biden’s administration commended Colombia’s “condemnation of Russia’s actions,” according to the U.S. State Department.
Diego Molano, Colombia’s minister of national defense, has been concerned about the assistance Venezuela is getting from Russia and Iran. Benjamin Gantz, Israel’s minister of defense, recently reported Iran gave Venezuela precision-guided missiles for Mohajer-6 drones.
Molano has worried about the weapons making it into the hands of Colombian Marxist-Leninist rebels. Colombia’s fight continues against the National Liberation Army, or ELN, a leftist guerrilla that has been pushing for communism since the 1960s and FARC dissidents.
Colombia signed a peace deal with the FARC, or Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia People’s Army, in 2016. The historic civil war and the peace deal continue to redefine politics in Colombia.
Ingrid Betancourt, a former Colombian senator who was a FARC’s hostage for about six years, launched her presidential candidacy with the Oxygen Green Party. Her captors founded a Marxist political party in 2017 and renamed it the Common People’s Party, or “Comunes” earlier this year.
Gustavo Petro is the leading left-wing presidential candidate and the founder of the Humane Colombia party. The former mayor of Bogotá was a member of a former leftist guerrilla known as the 19th of April Movement, or M-19, in the 1980s.
“Europe hanged by the fossil economy is about to fall into its third European war. A war for gas. Latin America in peace can take advantage of it to grow,” Petro wrote in Spanish on Twitter Wednesday, and he added, “There are those who would stupidly like to reproduce the Russian/Ukrainian conflict in our own region ... what the constitution orders is not to participate ‘diplomatically’ in wars but to seek world peace.”
Petro has appealed to some impoverished Colombians who have felt the brunt of the Venezuelan refugee crisis as they compete for jobs and aid. Last year, Molano traveled to the border when Venezuelans overwhelmed a small Colombian town while the Venezuelan military clashed with an armed group.
In Cuba, government media reported last week that Russia’s deputy prime minister Yuri Borisov visited the island to meet with Cuban leaders and “expand cooperation.” Borisov also made stops in Nicaragua and Venezuela. Maduro and Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega released statements in support of Russia.
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Torres contributed to this report from Miami.