.- In the wake of last week’s decision by Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez to break off diplomatic ties with Colombia, bishops from both countries expressed their firm intentions to cooperate and improve bonds between the two nations.
According to the website of the Colombian Bishops’ Conference, Archbishop Ruben Salazar Gomez said he hopes “to return to having peaceful and fraternal relations,” and he called for solidarity with those suffering from the Venezuelan decision to break off ties.
“It makes no sense that we are incapable of solving problems…our nations deserve to live in peace,” said Archbishop Gomez, adding that “the climate of mutual mistrust” between both governments must be overcome. Colombia’s president-elect Juan Manuel Santos previously expressed the importance of having strong relations with neighboring countries.
Archbishop Ubaldo Santana Sequera, president of the Venezuelan Bishops’ Conference, called the situation “worrisome” and expressed hope that the bishops of both countries could “continue working together, bearing witness to fraternity.”
“We hope that any military conflict between the nations will be avoided. Solutions apart from war must be sought out together,” he said.
Asked about the presence of the FARC guerrillas in Venezuela, Archbishop Santana said, “There are too many reports of easy movement (of insurgents) through our borders.”
“The government needs to have a greater presence in the border regions. We are leaving too many gaps for these groups to move about,” he said.