Student says no to Colombian-Venezuelan war

By Will Metcalfe

A POTENTIAL war between Colombia and Venezuela could be avoided with open discussion, says University of Manchester student.

Columbian-born Germán Prieto, who is currently writing his PhD on Andean Relations, says tensions between the two nations are not a new issue but claims that the nature of them has changed.

Venezuelan president, Hugo Chavez, the took action against Columbia on Friday 20 November 2009 when he blew-up several footbridges linking border communities, and the arrival of arms from Russia reportedly has fuelled speculations that a full-scale conflict may break-out at any time.

“There have always been tensions between the two countries. The main problem is the border they share. They have never been able to agree what it is,” said Mr Prieto, who believes that  differences between the two presidents could drive the countries to conflict.

“The good thing of being away is that you see things differently, you are separated from the momentum,” said Mr Prieto, “I would like to be there right now to organise forums, conferences and meetings. People are already doing this in the border region; asking President Alvaro Uribe to give a guarantee against war.

“If I was in Bogota maybe my colleagues and I would organise a paper, asking Uribe to stop the confrontation with Chavez.”

According to Mr Prieto, the border under contention stretches for more than 1500km and is the source of much antagonism because of definitions of ownership. Reports suggest that guerrillas and drug traffickers are also operating in the region.

The student believes that increasingly hostility between Venezuela and Colombia governments is not due to citizens of the two nations.

“With Colombians and Venezuelans it’s not enmity but fraternity that we have. The border is a homogenous region, it’s not Colombia or Venezuela – people cross those bridges everyday,” he said, “No one wants a war in the region except the fanatics.”

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