Colombia -Possible Venezuelan and Russian interference in Colombian elections: What is at stake?

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Location: Bogota – Colombia 

Language: Spanish
Duration: 00:04:44
Source: A24 subscribers 
Restrictions: A24 clients
Dateline: 17/04/2022 

Storyline

Colombia’s right-wing has accused the Venezuelan leadership of attempting to interfere in the upcoming Colombian presidential elections, a charge later denied by Venezuelan diplomats in an episode that could put further strain on relations between the two countries.The right-wing said Venezuela was attempting to influence Colombia’s May 29th election in favor of pulling Colombia away from the United States, its long-time ally, and bringing the country closer to an isolated Russia.On April 16th, hundreds of Venezuelan migrants living in Colombia gathered to legalize their personal documents, with some urged voters to stay vigilant to avoid any foreign interference, doubting that anything can happen”. The Charge d’Affaires of the Venezuelan Embassy to Colombia, Eduardo Battistini, said the presence of Russian forces operating in Venezuela is no secret. He said Venezuela has shown that without a war and a natural disaster, the effects of the loss of democracy can be equal or worse for migration. Ronald Rodriguez, director of the Observatory on Venezuela at Rosario University in Bogota, said allegationsthat interference could happen are common in Latin American streets but will increase during elections times.He said the message of Venezuela’s tampering with elections was worn down as Russian and Venezuelan did not enjoy mutual relations. The diplomat said Venezuela does not count on Russia’s unconditional support, adding that Russia has found an opportunity due to the absence of the United States and the sanctions that force Venezuela to look for other sources of funding.He said the Venezuelan government has tried to make Russia appear as its ally but Russia, like the U.S, is keen on seeking for its interests. In February 2019, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro suspended diplomatic relations with Colombia, which is currently hosting three millionVenezuelan migrants.

Shotlist

– (Soundbite) Eduardo Battistini, Venezuelan diplomat appointed by Juan Guaido SPANISH AUDIO

“That has been heard before, I heard it from former presidents, like Pastrana, who has talked about alleged fraud or cyber interference. I think the topic is sensitive, but the interference of Maduros henchmen in Colombia has to be considered, they cross the borders and stay in villages for intel – not only against us who are detractors – but also supporting the protests… Last year there were protests and a video was seen where protesters chanted the songs of Hugo Chavez back in 2003 campaign.  Nicolás Maduro’s interference is important… not only for electoral times – But it is clear that his relation with armed groups, such as FARC and ELN is detrimental to the democratic stability in Colombia. While Nicolas Maduro is in office, there will be no democratic guarantees in the region.” 

– (Soundbite) Eduardo Battistini, Venezuelan diplomat appointed by Juan Guaido SPANISH AUDIO

“Venezuela has shown that without a war, without the need of an invasion – like it is happening in Ukraine – without a natural disaster… The effects of the loss of democracy can be equal or worse for migration. 

– (Soundbite) Marlene Montero, lawyer and Venezuelan migrant, while she tries to legalize personal documents. 

“In Venezuela we have had much foreign interference. Sadly, it is them who are taking advantage of it while the Venezuelans had to travel abroad looking for work and better quality of life. Colombia has to stay vigilant regarding this electoral process, because anything is possible.”

– (Soundbite) professor Ronald Rodríguez, Observatorio de Venezuela from Universidad del Rosario SPANISH AUDIO

” In the last campaign one of the slogans was ‘we don’t want to become Venezuela’, and the Venezuelans’ testimonies aided the winning candidate… Venezuelans would jump on to public transportation or walk through the streets saying ‘we don’t want you to live what we do due to making bad choices’. This narrative is one of the reasons why Duque became president and boosted the fear against Pacto Historico Party. Now they are trying to reuse that tool, but it has worn down. That saying of ‘We will become like Venezuela’ is no longer credible.”

– (Soundbite) professor Ronald Rodríguez, Observatorio de Venezuela from Universidad del Rosario SPANISH AUDIO

“Venezuela does not count on Russia’s unconditional support, no. Russia has found an opportunity due to the absence of the United States and the sanctions that force Venezuela to look for other sources of funding. This relation is not as ideal as many see. There is a rather obvious consideration of who are the good and who are the bad ones… polarizing speech, that Colombia and Venezuela use as much. But the Venezuelan government tries to make Russia appear as their ally, a close friend… no. Russia has its interests. Just like the United States has its own in Colombia. And that situation creates a struggle between them, mostly because of lack of communication. 

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