In a surprise move, Venezuela on Tuesday closed the Colombian border five days before holding its presidential election.
According to Colombian media reports, Venezuelan border patrol officials at 6AM closed the border crossings connecting the Colombian city of Cucuta with the Venezuelan Tachira state, the busiest border crossings on the 1300-miles border.
Caracol Radio reported that the unannounced closing of the border caused chaos as citizens of both countries suddenly got trapped on either side of the border.
Locals who live off cross-border trade were angry about the sudden closing of the border.
“They never warn us. We didn’t know a date and today we find this. Next come the abuses of economic activity that depends on the border,” an anonymous businessman told the radio station.
In past elections, the Venezuela government closed the borders between 24 and 72 hours before elections are held.
The country will hold its second elections in half a year on Sunday. The elections were forced because of the death of President Hugo Chavez, who was reelected in October, but died last month. Chavez’s old opponent, Henrique Capriles, who lost to Chavez in the last elections, this time will face Nicolas Maduro, Venezuela’s acting president and long-time Chavez supporter.