Venezuela Reopen Border With Colombia

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Venezuela and Colombia borders were officially reopened after being closed by Venezuela a year ago.

Venezuela’s stores lack the most basic foods and medicines. Queues of hundreds and even thousands of people are common, and riots and looting are a daily occurrence.

Venezuela’s President Nicolas Maduro abruptly closed the border last August hoping to protect his country from smugglers and paramilitaries. Critics saw the action as a stunt to shift attention from worsening domestic problems.

Maduro announced the reopening, alongside his Colombian counterpart Juan Manuel Santos. Five border crossings will be open to pedestrians during the day.

More than 28,000 people — many of them Venezuelans — had moved across the border in the first few hours that it was opened.

A representative from Colombia’s Foreign Ministry said 5,000 people had crossed in the first two hours.

The border has for years been a hotbed of smuggling of everything from price-controlled toothpaste and pasta to illegal drugs and weapons.

Maduro blamed Colombians, among others, for the country’s crisis and the closure strained relations between the South American neighbours.

Many people continued to cross the border over the past year using dirt paths, shallow river crossings and by paying officials.

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