Key Highlights …
Threat from Venezuela: Following the independence of Colombia and its neighbor Venezuela in the 19th century, problems with border security up until the late 1980s triggered serious diplomatic conflicts and overshadowed important bilateral trade. Colombia's relations with Venezuela underwent a substantial change in the 1990s, when both countries began to perceive the other as a threat. During the last decade, under the leadership of the Venezuelan president, Hugo Chavez, and Colombian president, Álvaro Uribe, political and diplomatic relations between the two countries ranged between periods of mutual understanding and tension. Colombia's close relationship with the US also triggered distrust between Colombia and Venezuela. In 2009, the US and Colombia signed a 10-year bilateral defense agreement, which gave the US increased access to seven military bases in Colombia for counter-narcotics and counter-terrorism co-operation. However, Venezuela claims that the US intends to use Colombia as a strategic platform to potentially invade Venezuela. Finally, in July 2010, Venezuela broke off diplomatic relations with Colombia soon after President Uribe accused Venezuela of harboring 1,500 leftist Colombian rebels in its territory, a charge Venezuela strongly denied. Venezuela and Colombia agreed to restore diplomatic relations the following August, and increase security along the shared border to prevent Marxist guerrillas and drug traffickers from mounting attacks or hiding in dense jungle. However, this was viewed as a temporary solution, rather than a long-term peace agreement.
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