Venezuela reopens border with Colombia
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.