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Press room

‘Challenges should be turned into opportunities. And that’s what we are doing. This is an opportunity to strengthen our border zone’: President Santos

Bogotá, September 9, 2015 (SIG).

The President of the Republic, Juan Manuel Santos, led an accountability session this Wednesday at the Casa de Nariño on the status of fundamental rights in the country, in the celebration of the National Human Rights Day today.

Following are some statements made by the Head of State during his press appearance:

• “I want to reiterate on this Human Rights Day that Colombia is a democracy, a country that believes in liberties.

• In Colombia we respect differences: both domestic as well as those we have with other countries, with our neighbors.

• Venezuela has set in motion its so-called Bolivarian Revolution, and we have respected it. We don’t share it. We don’t believe that it’s the most appropriate path to meet the needs of the people. But we have respected it.

• Never, under any scenario or circumstance, have we ever attacked it, and much less taken part in any plots to destroy it.

• I am not destroying the Bolivarian Revolution. The Bolivarian Revolution is self-destructing, it is destructing itself through its results.

• The supply shortages problem is a problem of the Venezuelan model; it is not a problem made in Colombia.

• The inflation problem in Venezuela, the highest inflation in the world, is not due to the Colombian people.

• The Venezuelan government is now comparing the arrival of Colombians to Venezuela with the exodus of African people to Europe. This is absurd, what a ludicrous argument; moreover, it is contrary to all evidence.

• Venezuela, 20, 30, 40 years ago, was a much richer country than Colombia; it was a serene country, a country with opportunities to offer. But Venezuela is no longer that country.

• Today, thousands of Venezuelans come to Colombia looking for jobs, to do business, to study.

• Many of them are fleeing from insecurity. Just compare the homicide rates in Caracas and Bogotá, the homicide rates in Venezuela and Colombia. The figures over there around 82 or 83 per hundred thousand inhabitants; here, we are below 27.

• Colombia will grow between 3 to 3.5 percent; it is one of the countries with the highest growth in all of Latin America.

• Venezuela will decrease 7 percent; a negative growth of 7 percent, as the crabs.

• Last year we had one of the lowest inflation rates. It is around 4 percent, 4.5 percent. In Venezuela it is over 200 percent; from 4 to 200.

• Investment in Venezuela negligible; investors continue coming to Colombia to create jobs, to create prosperity.

• The supply shortages, which mean that the people lack the necessary basic products, are showing indexes that state that Venezuela is below the indexes of countries such as Syria and Afghanistan.

• They should not blame us for the problems in Venezuela. The Venezuelan Government cannot blame the Colombian people for their problems.

• Both Venezuelans and Colombians are involved in organized crime and smuggling on both sides of the border.

• The Venezuelan Government should investigate who are the ones that are controlling the smuggling from their side to ours.

• Therefore, that is the issue that we have to address working together. And we can only fight these problems through the determined action of the two States. Closing the border is not the path to face them.

• When borders are closed and the two States do not cooperate, mafia groups cash in on it; it is the most favorable environment for their illicit businesses to thrive.

• The closure of the border with Venezuela is not Colombia’s fault. And as each day goes by, it is increasingly clear that it is due to other interests.

• Diplomacy and dialogue, firmness and prudence. Those are the components of our foreign relations policy. My radar is to solve and manage our international relations.

• This radar does not have room for disrespect. That radar has no space for insults, for clowning around or for lies. The radar does not register or respond to any of those things.

• It is within this radar –diplomacy, dialogue, firmness and prudence– that I have been willing, and still am, to solve the problems with Venezuela.

• I have always tried to avoid being provoked by offensive language, and in this episode –I want to be crystal clear- I will not allow myself to be provoked.

• As the President of all the Colombian people, I will not rest until the violation of the human rights of our fellow citizens ceases.

• When we open our doors to dialogue, we are sending signals indicating that we want to solve this problem; the answer of the Venezuelan Government is to close the border even further.

• Nevertheless, the doors are still open. But clear enough, under the inalienable condition of an outright respect for the fundamental rights, the human rights of all our fellow citizens.