Spain's acting foreign minister, Josep Borrell, did not mind leaving the EU with egg on its face this Thursday after he congratulated the Colombian government for its "open door" policy in response to what he described as a "biblical exodus" of Venezuelans fleeing their country. Borrell compared the attitude of Colombia with the "closed doors" that can be seen in Europe in the face of an "infinitely smaller" problem.
His statements may not be greeted very enthusiastically in some European political circles, especially considering that Borrell will likely be the leader of EU diplomacy if he survives the vote of confirmation for the role, to be held in the European Parliament on October 7th.
In fact, Borrell went further and put forward his own scenario: what would happen in Spain, he asked, if 1.5 million people suddenly appeared on the Portuguese border, given that this is a society which is currently very concerned about a much smaller number - a few thousand migrants - who arrive from the Mediterranean. Colombia, he stressed, has shown much more generosity than the Europeans.
Borrell was speaking in the presence of his Colombian counterpart, Carlos Holmes Trujillo, at an informative breakfast meeting held by the Madrid-based think tank, Nueva Economia Forum, at which the Venezuelan crisis occupied much of the debate.
Trujillo made it clear that Colombia would maintain its policy of accepting arrivals from Venezuela and will try to convince the region to coordinate the management of the migration. However, he stressed that the situation must "move the international community" and that Colombia, which has already welcomed 1.4 million people, needs more cooperation from others. According to the Colombian minister, the aid received by Venezuelans who have left their country amounts to $68 per capita, whereas in the case of Syrian refugees, the figure is $560 per person, he said.
Trujillo also stressed that Colombia "will not rest" until it resolves the situation in Venezuela, and "will use all possible political and diplomatic means in all international and institutional forums, and will knock on all doors and seek all the necessary interlocutors" .
Present among the audience at the meeting was Lilian Tintori, the wife of the Venezuelan opposition politician Leopoldo López - López has been living in the Spanish embassy in Caracas, and Tintori moved to Madrid in June - and she took the floor to call for the international community to respond to the humanitarian crisis and to "become obsessed" so that Nicolás Maduro will leave. The only way to resolve the humanitarian crisis, Tintori said, is by ending the "usurpation."
The meeting was also attended by the former Spanish PM Felipe González, former mayor of Caracas Antonio Ledezma; the mother of Leopoldo López, Antonieta Mendoza; the representative of opposition leader Juan Guaidó in Spain, Antonio Ecarri, and Spanish politicians, among them the president and vice president of the Euro-America Foundation, Ramón Jaúregui (PSOE) and José Ignacio Salafranca (PP); the Vox deputy Iván Espinosa de los Monteros and the far-right party's spokesperson in the Madrid regional assembly, Rocío Monasterio.