Despite his open hostility towards his Venezuelan counterpart Nicolás Maduro, Boric has ended the five-year period in which Chile did not have an ambassador in Caracas. Photo: Gabriel Boric Twitter
Chilean President Gabriel Boric on Thursday May 25 appointed a new Chilean ambassador to Venezuela. Jaime Gazmuri Mujica, former Chilean ambassador to Brazil, will fill the post that had been vacant since 2018.
The appointment comes after a migration crisis occurred on the Chilean border with Peru involving hundreds of Venezuelans who were trying to leave Chilean territory to return to Venezuela.
The militarization on both sides of the border decreed by Lima and Santiago forced the migrants to remain homeless for two weeks in the Chilean city of Arica, which borders the southern Peruvian province of Tacna. The situation was not resolved until May 7, when Venezuela sent a humanitarian plane to repatriate the Venezuelans.
In early March, shortly after militarizing the provinces and cities bordering Bolivia and Peru, Boric adopted a conservative tone against migrants and said that the inhabitants of these regions had to “experience the effects of the massive and irregular entry of people who come to our country seeking opportunities.”
“Some of them also come with intentions to commit crimes and I want to be very clear when I say that these people who come to commit crimes are not welcome. We will pursue them and we will make, within the rule of law, their lives impossible,” the Chilean president said at the time.
After the incident, Boric sent a diplomatic representative to Caracas to negotiate humanitarian and migration agreements.
Since 2018, Chile had not maintained an ambassador to Venezuela and only had a chargé d’affaires in the country. At the time, then conservative president Sebastián Piñera decided not to appoint a diplomatic representative because he considered that the Venezuelan presidential elections that year had been allegedly “fraudulent.”
Piñera was one of the most active figures in the so-called Lima Group, a group of South American countries that joined the US-designed “maximum pressure” campaign against Maduro. He also recognized the fictitious presidential mandate of former deputy Juan Guaidó and provided ample support for the coup initiatives of the Venezuelan opposition.
With the victory of candidates from the progressive camp in South America, the Lima Group lost strength and countries returned to normalizing relations with Caracas. Colombia, governed by Gustavo Petro, Brazil, governed by Lula, Argentina, presided over by Alberto Fernández, and Bolivia, of Luis Arce, have already restored relations with Venezuela.
Thus, Chile becomes the fifth South American country to review its position towards Venezuela after the crisis triggered by Guaidó. Even the president-elect of Paraguay, Santiago Peña, who is due to take office in August, has already promised to normalize diplomatic ties with the Venezuelan government.
Friction between Boric and Maduro
Despite being included in the so-called “return of progressives” to governments in South America, Boric comparatively has adopted the most hostile stance towards Venezuela.
The president has attacked the Maduro government on several occasions for alleged “human rights violations” in the country. In September last year, during a speech at Columbia University in New York, Boric even said that it would be “hypocritical” for someone who calls himself a leftist not to condemn Venezuela and Nicaragua.
Moreover, in the same period, the Chilean president even accused Caracas of putting “tremendous pressure” on Chile for the intense migratory wave of Venezuelans.
Boric’s attacks were answered by Venezuela, mainly by Chavista deputy Diosdado Cabello, vice president of the ruling PSUV party. “If you think we are going to capitulate because a fool like Boric comes to talk nonsense about Venezuela, you are mistaken,” said the parliamentarian.
This article was first published in Portuguese at Brasil de Fato