Venezuela and Colombia have partially reopened their common border after nearly a year, allowing many Venezuelans to enter Colombian territory to buy basic goods.
As the border opened on Saturday, tens of thousands of Venezuelans crossed into Colombia to buy food and medicine in the early hours of the day amid a severe economic crisis in their own country.
“I feel grateful given that in our country, Venezuela, we don’t have these goods, and it’s a benefit for all Venezuelans to come into Colombia to buy basic goods for the homes of all Venezuelan families,” said a Venezuelan resident crossing the border.
A Colombian living in Venezuela also said, “I’ve had arthritis for seven years and I haven’t been able to find the medications for the past six months.”
A woman carries tires on a baby stroller while she crosses to Venezuela over the Simon Bolivar international bridge after shopping in Cucuta, Colombia, August 13, 2016. (Photo by Reuters)
Officials said five pedestrian border crossings will remain open for 12 hours every day.
The decision to open the border was made after talks between Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro and his Colombian counterpart Juan Manuel Santos in the eastern Venezuelan town of Puerto Ordaz on Thursday.
Venezuelan authorities had decided to shut the border in August 2015 following an attack on a Venezuelan army patrol that injured three people. He blamed the attack at the time on right-wing paramilitaries from Colombia.
Over the past year, many people continued to cross the border using dirt paths, shallow river crossings and by offering bribes to border guards and officials