Venezuela re­opens bor­der with Colombia

Baltimore Sun Sunday - - NATION & WORLD - By Manuel Rueda and Luz Dary Depablos

CU­CUTA, COLOMBIA — Thou­sands of Venezue­lans crossed into Colombia on Satur­day to buy food and medicine af­ter Venezuela’s Pres­i­dent Ni­co­las Maduro reopened a bor­der that had been shut down for the past four months.

Long lines of Venezue­lans stood at two in­ter­na­tional bridges near the city of Cu­cuta wait­ing to have their doc­u­ments checked by Colom­bian of­fi­cials, with some car­ry­ing chil­dren on their shoul­ders. Venezue­lan bor­der guards helped control the crowd.

The South Amer­i­can na­tion’s so­cial­ist gov­ern­ment or­dered the borders with Brazil and Colombia — as well as ma­rine ac­cess to Aruba, Bon­aire and Cu­ra­cao is­lands — closed in Fe­bru­ary as the op­po­si­tion tried to de­liver food and med­i­cal sup­plies into the coun­try.

Most of the aid was pro­vided largely by the United States, a key ally of op­po­si­tion leader Juan Guaido who de­clared him­self Venezuela’s right­ful pres­i­dent in Jan­uary. But Maduro dis­missed the aid as an in­fringe­ment on Venezuela’s sovereignt­y and pro­hib­ited it from en­ter­ing.

In May, the gov­ern­ment reopened borders with Aruba and Brazil, but the Si­mon Bo­li­var In­ter­na­tional Bridge and the Fran­cisco de Paula San­tander In­ter­na­tional Bridge with Colombia re­mained closed un­til now.

With the re­open­ing, a flood of peo­ple seized on the opportunit­y to en­ter into the neigh­bor­ing coun­try and se­cure items largely unattain­able in Venezuela.

The once-wealthy oil na­tion faces se­vere short­ages of ba­sic goods and hy­per­in­fla­tion ex­pected to sur­pass 10 mil­lion per­cent this year, ac­cord­ing to a re­cent IMF es­ti­mate. The chaos has been fur­ther ag­gra­vated by U.S. sanc­tions on Venezue­lan oil ex­ports and has forced some 5,000 peo­ple to leave the coun­try each day, ac­cord­ing to the United Na­tion’s refugee agency.


Mil­lions of Venezue­lans have fled to es­cape eco­nomic and po­lit­i­cal chaos. Above, a group crosses into Colombia in May.


Venezuela opened its bor­der Satur­day with Colombia af­ter a four-month clo­sure or­dered by Pres­i­dent Ni­co­las Maduro.

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