Venezuela reopened its border with Colombia on Saturday after talks between disputed President Nicolas Maduro and his opponents lowered tensions between the two neighbors.
Curiously, the reopening of the border did not lead to a resumption of the mass exodus of Venezuelans fleeing their crisis-stricken country at the main border crossing, the Simon Bolivar bridge. To the contrary.
According to Colombia’s migration authority, 34,000 Venezuelans entered Colombia using the formal border crossing while 40,000 returned to Venezuela.
Venezuelans leaving their country took to using informal border crossings away from the bridge after their government closed the border in February.
The majority of Venezuelans entering Colombia do so to purchase food and medicine that have grown scarce in the neighboring country after a drop in oil prices in 2014 spurred an economic crisis that continues to persist.
The government of Maduro closed the border a day before opposition leader Juan Guaido, who has declared himself interim president, tried to enter his country with trucks of aid provided by the United States.
The operation ended in extreme violence and spurred Maduro to close the border and break all ties with Colombia’s government.
After Guaido’s second US-supported attempt to forcibly oust his rival failed in April, the government and opposition agreed to talks that are currently underway in Oslo, Norway.
The negotiations have drastically lowered tensions between Maduro and the government of his Colombian counterpart Ivan Duque, a strong ally of the Venezuelan opposition.
The closing of the border aggravated the situation for civilians in the border region; while Venezuelans were impeded to purchase food products and medicine in Colombia, the economy in border city Cucuta all but collapsed.
According to government-loyal officials from the Venezuelan border state Tachira, the reopening of the border seeks to normalize the situation and reactivate the economy on both sides of the border.