Friday, Jun 18, 2021

Colombia reopens border with Venezuela after 14 months of closure due to pandemic

Colombia reopens border with Venezuela after 14 months of closure due to pandemic

In a resolution, Colombia's Interior Ministry ordered "the gradual reopening" of the 2,200 km border crossings.
The Colombian government opened its river and land borders with Venezuela on Wednesday, closed since March 2020 to stop the coronavirus pandemic.

In a resolution, the Colombian Interior Ministry ordered "the gradual reopening " of the 2,200 km border crossings , a measure that the Venezuelan government rejected.

The measure took effect at 00:00 (05:00 GMT) on Wednesday and rescinded a presidential decree that had extended the shutdown until September 1.

Immigration agents removed a metal barrier and reviewed the documents of a few dozen passers-by who were able to cross from Venezuela, mainly for medical reasons.

On May 19, the country reopened the steps that connect it with Panama, Peru, Brazil and Ecuador, also closed to prevent the spread of the virus. Venezuela, with whom Colombia does not have diplomatic relations, was initially excluded from this measure.

The Venezuelan Foreign Ministry on Wednesday dismissed Colombia's decision as "untimely", calling on the Colombian authorities to "advance in bilateral coordination (...) that could eventually lead to the agreed reopening of the border crossings."

President Nicolás Maduro last week opposed an eventual "unilateral" reopening of the border by Colombia.

Venezuela and Colombia broke relations in February 2019, after President Iván Duque recognized the opposition Juan Guaidó as interim president of Venezuela to the detriment of Maduro, whom he considers a "dictator."

About a million undocumented Venezuelans are today in the process of regularization in the neighboring country.

The closure of the border crossings was initially decreed on March 16, 2020, 10 days after the first case of coronavirus was registered in Colombia.

Although the country of 50 million inhabitants is experiencing a third peak of the pandemic that has been even more aggressive than the previous ones, it has been relaxing most of the sanitary restrictions in the face of the economic disaster.

In proportion to its population, Colombia is the third country with the most deaths from coronavirus in Latin America and the Caribbean, behind Peru and Brazil. Almost 90,000 people have died from the pandemic and more than 3.4 million have been infected.

Venezuela, for its part, recognizes just over 235,500 positive cases, with 2,661 deaths, although organizations such as Human Rights Watch dismiss the official balance sheets by denouncing a high underreporting.

Related Articles