Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez Tuesday threatened to completely close the border with Colombia following the murder of two members of the Civil Guard by an alleged Venezuelan ally of Colombian paramilitaries.
The two officials were shot by men on motorbikes just feet away from the border on Monday.
Authorities on the Venezuelan side of the border near Cucuta immediately decided to close two main checkpoints connecting Colombia’s Norte de Santander department and Venezuela’s Tachira state. These were opened temporarily Tuesday afternoon to allow stuck travelers to cross the borders. Trucks were not allowed to pass.
But Chavez — since July threatening to block trade over his disagreement with a U.S.-Colombian military pact — on Tuesday evening said his government was evaluating the situation in the border area and was considering closing it indefinitely.
The border has long been a reason of friction between the country as both paramilitary and guerrilla fighters from Colombia cross it to escape Colombian authorities and move Colombian-produced cocaine to Venezuela for further transport. The Venezuelan states bordering Colombia have soaring crime rates and no more than two weeks ago two massacres were committed on Colombian citizens.
“One of the measures we are studying is to declare an emergency at the border and, well, close it.” Chavez said.
Closing the border would further deteriorate the situation for Colombian exporters who already have seen a decrease in income because of the tensions between the two neighboring countries.