The border with Colombia-Venezuela will be reopened and operate as normal within a matter of days, 11-month after its closure, according to Colombia’s foreign minister.
Officials from both countries are set to meet on August 4 to clarify the logistics of reopening the frontier which was closed in AUgust last year at the demand of Venezuelan leader Nicolas Maduro allegedly amid security concerns.
Colombia’s foreign minister Maria Angela Holguin acknowledged that both sides are working towards reaching an agreement that will restore movement across the border but insisted that safety is a priority.
“We appreciate the effort made by the boundary community to address the recommendations that have been made from both governments, understanding that the priority of the two countries is to avoid situations that endanger the physical integrity of our nation,” said Holguin in a statement.
In order to move towards a permanent reopening of the border officials from both sides agreed not to allow passage of citizens to Colombia in search of basic necessities, across the bridges Simon Bolivar and Francisco de Paula Santander, Norte de Santander and Jose Antonio Paez, in Arauca.
The collapse of the Venezuelan economy has meant that people cannot buy basic foodstuffs forcing thousands to flee to Colombian towns to shop on days of specific border openings.
The volume of people crossing the bridges on these days has caused safety concerns hastening the need to find a permanent solution for the reopening to the frontier.
“We saw last week when we had more than 70,000 people on a bridge across the border between Venezuela and Norte de Santander , and we are concerned about this issue because we do not know if the bridge can withstand this situation. What we want is to support the Venezuelan people, and we will continue to do so, but by establishing normal safety standards,” said the Colombian Foreign Minister.
Top government officials have been meeting for weeks to discuss joint security policies that seek to curb smuggling and drug trafficking that have plagued the neglected border region for decades.
Maduro’s closure of the border resulted in the repatriation, deportation, expulsion or voluntary return to the country of 17,000 Colombians, according to figures from the Foreign Ministry of Colombia.
The August 4 meeting will look to arrange protocols to facilitate the border reopening aswell as a long-term roadmap to address the problems of crime and human rights issues to make it sustainable into the future.
- Colombia y Venezuela avanzan hacia reapertura de la frontera (CNN Colombia)
- En pocos días frontera con Venezuela volvería a la normalidad, (El Tiempo)
- Acciones del gobierno nacional sobre la atencion a Colombianos en la frontera con Venezuela (Ministry of Foreign Relations)