Colombia and Venezuela poised for a reset of relations under Gustavo Petro

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Incoming leftwing president faces tricky task of trying to fix problems without getting too close to the Maduro regime

Gideon Long in Bogotá

Among the many things Gustavo Petro wants to change as Colombia’s next president is his country’s fractured relationship with Venezuela — its most important neighbour but for years a bitter political foe.

The two countries have been on different trajectories since Hugo Chavéz took power in 1999 and launched his “Bolivarian socialist revolution”, an ideology maintained by the current authoritarian regime of Nicolás Maduro.

With Petro having been elected in June as Colombia’s most leftwing president, there has never been a better time to improve ties with Caracas, analysts say. But doing so will not be easy: Petro will face pressure from the Colombian right, certain forces within Venezuela and the US to hold Maduro’s regime to account for human rights abuses and undermining democracy.