The relationship between Venezuela and Colombia was initially hinged on the fact they both got their independence under Simon Bolivar although they later separated into two states in the 19th century which led to the strains in their relationship.
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The strain has been witnessed in various incidences. For example in 1991 a Colombian missile could not leave disputed waters which the Colombians claimed to own. In 1998, Colombian guerillas attacked a Venezuelan military post and the attack led to the demise of civilians (Benitez, Celi and Jacome 7).
Later on in 2002 there was Venezuelan military presence in the Colombian airspace that did not augur well. This turn of events necessitated the signing of a memorandum of understanding in relation to concerns on displacement of the populace on April 23 (Gott 19). The kidnapping of a Colombian guerrilla in 2004 also added to the already strained ties. In 2007 the presidents of the two countries attempted to arbitrate in a post humanitarian exchange, but the talks failed again as a result of mistrust and accusations as the Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez was accused of interference (Child 59).
The complex relationship continued over the years and in 2013 Venezuelan government raised concern over the acceptance of its opposition leader by the Colombian government (Benitez, Celi and Jacome 7). However, bilateral relations were restored after a presidential meeting held in the same year. Cross border wars still heightened the tension between these two countries and issues ranged from cross border smuggling of fuel and other basic provisions. The effects of these activities included the migration of Colombians who had inhabited Venezuela (Ewell 307).
The strained relationship was characterized by claims and counter accusations such as Venezuela accusing Colombia of causing regional imbalance because of its increased military capabilities (Livingstone 23). On the other hand Colombia also blamed Venezuela for the presence of revolutionary forces. The poor relationship between these two states is also evidenced in Venezuela’s opposition to the planned cooperation with the DEA against drugs that was initiated by Colombia (Ewell 321). These are some of the conflicts that have arisen between these two states that seem to be in a constant state of antagonism.
The topic of discussion in this paper can be directly explained using Migdal’s book ‘Strong societies and weak states’. The book clearly depicts the state of affairs in the conflict between Colombia and Venezuela. According to Migdal, the desire for control by a state is characterized by inherent conflict between leaders where each leader aims to mobilize resources and people while imposing own class of rules (43).
This would then act as a determining factor for strong or weak states. Since time immemorial, presidents of both Colombia and Venezuela have each sought to gain more control of key resources such as water in order that their territories can appear stronger (Migdal 45). At one point concerns are raised by the Colombians over the increased military capability of the Venezuelans. This is a plain illustration of two leaders who are each angling for means of how to stay superior over the other (Benitez, Celi and Jacome 8).
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Migdal states that when classifying strong and weak states a state’s ability to exercise social control is a major yardstick (48). This seems to have been a major cause of rivalry between the leaders of both countries. Each state wants to dominate the societies that are within and without their sphere of influence (Ewell 309). The book by Migdal is an illustration of the means through which different states attempt to gain relevance and dominance over the other states.
The relationship between Venezuela and Colombia is not perfect. However attempts of reconciliation are made and though some strains remain, the animosity has reduced (Migdal 56).
Benítez, Raúl, Pablo Celi and Francine Jácome “Security in Latin America at the cross roads: among Geopolitics, ideology and Emergent threats”. Regional security in Latin America and the Caribbean: 2010 Yearbook. Bogotá: Friedrich Ebert Stiftung, 2010. 2-25. Print.
Child, Jack. Geopolitics and conflict in South America: quarrels among neighbors, New York: Praeger publishers, 1985. Print.
Eswell, Judith. “The Development of Venezuelan Geopolitical Analysis since World War2.” Journal of Inter-American Studies and World Affairs 24.3 (1982): 295-327. Print.
Gott, Richard. Hugo Chavez and the Bolivarian revolution, New York: Verso, 2005. Print.
Livingstone, Grace. Inside Colombia: Drugs, Democracy and war, New Brunswick: Rutgers University press, 2004. Print.
Migdal, Joel. Strong Societies states and Weak states: State-society relations and state Capabilities, Princeton, NJ: Princeton University press: 1988. Print.