Colombia Orders Israeli Ambassador To Leave Country!

Colombians marching in London in support of a Palestinian state

Colombia said on Monday evening that Israel’s ambassador must leave the country after President Gustavo Petro criticised the regime for crimes against the Palestinians of the besieged Gaza Strip.

Foreign Minister Alvaro Leyva said on Monday that Gali Dagan should ‘at a minimum, apologise and leave’ after he opposed President Petro’s remarks.

The foreign minister took to social media to slam the ‘rudeness’ of Israel’s response to Petro. ‘Shame’ he wrote.

The Israeli regime said Colombia’s Ambassador, Margarita Manjarrez, had been summoned over President Petro’s statements, in which he likened Israelis to ‘Nazis’ due to their brutality in Gaza.

Petro said: ‘If we have to suspend foreign relations with Israel, we will suspend them. We do not support genocides.

‘The president of Colombia will not be insulted,’ he said after Israel decided to cut arms exports to Colombia over Petro’s ‘hostile and anti-Semitic statements.’

Since the start of the Israeli war on Gaza on 7th October, Petro has voiced solidarity with the Palestinians in numerous comments on social media.

Petro has said Israel must cease its systematic attacks on civilians and genocide, urging the European Union to abide by international law and condemn the crimes of Israel.

Petro has also vowed that Colombia will send humanitarian aid to Gaza.

On October 7th, the Palestinian resistance movement Hamas launched Operation Al-Aqsa Flood deep into the territories occupied by the Israeli regime in reaction to the recurring desecration of the al-Aqsa Mosque in occupied al-Quds as well as intensified Israeli atrocities against the Palestinians of the occupied West Bank.

Israel has so far killed more than 2,800 Palestinians in Gaza.

Meanwhile, the Venezuelan government and the opposition are due to restart talks later on Tuesday after a suspension of almost a year, the two sides have announced in a joint statement.

The negotiations are aimed at reaching an agreement on how to end Venezuela’s protracted political crisis.

President Nicolás Maduro has suggested a deal is imminent.

The talks will be held in the capital of Barbados, Bridgetown, and facilitated by Norway.

Previous attempts at finding a way out of the political deadlock have stalled and while Maduro struck an optimistic note on Monday, he provided little detail.

Referring to presidential elections due to be held in Venezuela in 2024: ‘We are on the verge of signing new agreements with the opposition, agreements beneficial for peace and the upcoming election.

Maduro has been in power since 2013 and was most recently re-elected in 2018 in a poll widely dismissed as neither free nor fair.

Right-wing pro US politician Guaido has been living in exile in the United States since April and is unlikely to return to Venezuela anytime soon as the attorney-general, a close ally of President Maduro, has issued a warrant for his arrest.

Maduro, meanwhile, is expected to seek another term in office next year, although he has not yet officially announced his candidacy.

Opposition parties, which have boycotted past presidential elections because many of its candidates were either in jail or had been barred from running, are planning to take part in 2024 even though they say that the odds are stacked against them.

They will be holding a primary this Sunday to choose a unity candidate from a field of 12 to take on Maduro.

In June, the favourite to win the opposition primary, María Corina Machado, was barred from holding public office for 15 years by the comptroller-general, another ally of President Maduro.

Machado has stayed in the race to become the opposition’s unity candidate despite the ban, arguing that if she is chosen, she will aim to create enough momentum for the Maduro government to drop the ban.

Creating the conditions for free and fair elections are reportedly one of the issues US envoys have been pushing for in recent talks with Maduro government representatives in Qatar.

The Qatar talks are thought to have laid the groundwork for the resumption of negotiations between the Venezuelan opposition and the Maduro government on Tuesday in Barbados.

While the Maduro government frequently bashes the US in public, labelling it an ‘imperialist aggressor’ and blaming it for Venezuela’s dire economic state, Maduro is keen to come to an agreement with the Biden administration in order to have US sanctions on Venezuela relaxed.

The US, in turn, has a vested interest in the crisis in Venezuela easing, as the dire state of the economy in the Andean country has driven more than seven million to emigrate, with many heading for the United States.

An unnamed US official told the Washington Post that the Biden administration was ‘prepared to provide sanctions relief, in response to concrete actions toward competitive elections’.

But no concrete details of what may be in the deal have been officially released so far.

Meanwhile, Maduro said on the social media that he held ‘a fruitful meeting’ with the Mexican foreign minister, in which both parties expressed their willingness to increase cooperation in key areas.

The president said that during the meeting they talked ‘about the progress achieved in the different areas of bilateral cooperation, always in search of the welfare of our peoples.’

The meeting was attended by the First Lady, Cilia Flores, the Undersecretary for Latin America of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Rander Peña and the Venezuelan Ambassador to Mexico, Francisco Arias Cárdenas.

The social media entry reads: ‘I received at the Miraflores Presidential Palace the Foreign Minister of the United Mexican States, Alicia Bárcena, with whom I had a fruitful meeting.

‘We discussed the progress made in the different areas of bilateral cooperation, always in pursuit of the welfare of our peoples.’

The meeting between Maduro and Bárcena takes place one month after the exchange held at the Group of 77 (G77) plus China Summit, which took place in Cuba.

Bárcena arrived in Venezuela on Monday morning and previously held meetings with Vice Minister Peña and the country’s Vice President, Delcy Rodríguez.

The Mexican diplomat wrote on social media about her satisfaction that talks are be resumed by the Government and the Venezuelan opposition.

Barcena said: ‘From Caracas with Delcy Rodríguez, we celebrate the resumption of the talks and negotiation process that was signed in Mexico and that will take place later today in Barbados between the Government and the Unitary Platform with the presence of Mexico.’

The Venezuelan government and the opposition announced on Monday in a statement their decision to ‘resume the dialogue and negotiation process, facilitated by Norway, with the objective of reaching a political agreement.’

The United States will also participate, with an interest more linked to migration and the economy.