Gustavo Petro announces that he will reopen the borders with Venezuela

(CNN Spanish) — The elected president of Colombia, Gustavo Petro, announced that once he takes office he will reopen the borders with Venezuela to “restore the full exercise of human rights” in that place.

“I have communicated with the Venezuelan government to open the borders and restore the full exercise of human rights on the border,” Petro wrote on his Twitter account.

In recent years, that border has been partially closed and has been the focus of conflicts and escalations of tensions, which particularly affected trade between the two countries. In 2008, the commercial exchange reached about US$ 7,200 million, in 2015 it had fallen to about US$ 1,331 million and in 2020 it was just US$ 221 million.

The long border, through which people and goods have passed for centuries, was closed in 2015 by the Venezuelan government after a confrontation between Venezuelan security forces and civilians, which President Nicolás Maduro attributed to “paramilitarism” in Colombia and by the which blamed former Colombian President Álvaro Uribe, who denied the accusations.

In the following years, the situation gradually normalized, but in 2019, once again, Venezuela closed the border, amid an escalation of tensions between the governments of Maduro and President Iván Duque, in Colombia.

The 2020 pandemic only made the situation worse: Colombia closed its borders in March of that year, although it reopened them in June 2021.

The Simón Bolívar, Santander and Unión international bridges between the department of Norte de Santander (Colombia) and the state of Táchira (Venezuela) were mainly closed. Although other passes, such as Maicao, in the department of La Guajira (Colombia) and Maracaibo, in Zulia (Venezuela), remained mostly open.

According to the Colombo-Venezuelan Chamber, during the last years of partial closure of borders, most of the commercial exchange was processed by the customs of Maicao and Cartagena in Colombia. The port of Barranquilla has played a key role in Colombia’s imports from Venezuela.

Germán Padinger contributed to this report.

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