President Manuel Santos says Colombia is with the U.S. in its opposition to the Venezuelan government and upcoming presidential elections.
Standing next to Secretary of State Rex Tillerson this evening in Bogota, Santos said that the Lima Group - Argentina, Brazil, Canada, Colombia, Mexico and several other Latin American countries - will not recognize the upcoming Venezuelan presidential elections.
"It would be impossible for Colombia...to recognize any results” of the Venezuelan elections, Santos told the press.
Venezuelan president Nicolas Maduro is the socialist party candidate slated for election tentatively set April 30.
Santos said of Venezuela, “Along with the grave humanitarian crisis that the dictatorial regime refuses to recognize, now we have a call for presidential elections — elections that, for us, are not valid because they provide no [democratic] guarantees,” Santos said.
Santos claims that Colombia and countries in the region are “gravely affected” by the “broken” Bolivarian Revolution in Venezuela. He added that, “the return of democracy is urgent in Venezuela because its people are suffering.”
The Colombian head of state added that Colombia “is ready to keep providing human rights aid to the people of Venezuela.”
For his part, Tillerson, said he’s hoping for the “re-establishment of democracy in Venezuela.”
Santo went on to thank Mr. Tillerson for their political agreement, referring to Plan Colombia 2.0, or “Paz Colombia.”
The bilateral pact between the two countries was signed in Feb. 2016 and includes US$450 million in U.S. military aid to the South American country over the next 10 years to “combat” drug production and trafficking from Colombia to the U.S.
The agreement is an extension of Plan Colombia, a previous anti-narco and organized crime program that was in effect from 2000 until 2015. This previous pact gave Colombia US$10 billion in military aid and led to the deaths of hundreds of social activists.
Tillerson complimented Santos’s dedication to the elimination of coca production and processing.
The U.S. secretary of state has used his week-long Latin America and Caribbean trip to five countries to garner political support to topple the Venezuelan government.
On Sunday while in Argentina, Tillerson threatened to ban the import and export of oil and crude products from Venezuela into the U.S. to pressure Maduro to "return to the constitution." Days prior he made a thinly veiled reference to U.S. support of a military coup in Venezuela to overturn the government.
Tillerson ended tonight’s press conference with Santos by saying, “our only objective is for Venezuela to respect its institutions again".
Meanwhile, in the Dominican Republic, the Maduro administration and opposition parties are on the cusp of reaching a peace agreement they have been hammering out with international mediators over the past several months.