The government of Nicolás Maduro Tuesday reopened its border with Colombia, eight days after closing it to combat smuggling, it was announced.
President Maduro had simultaneously closed the border and decreed that the country's highest denomination bill worth 100 bolivars (around US$ 0,03) was to be withdrawn from circulation. But demostrations and looting erupted, forcing the government to eventually postpone the deadline for exchanging the bills until January 2.
Food shortages and better prices had led hundreds of Venezuelans to cross into Colombia to make arrangements for their Christmas parties and there was also a black market exchange operation taking advantage of different quotations on either end of the border line. Products subsidised by Venezuela's socialist government, including gasoline, sugar and flour, were also sold on the Colombian side at much higher prices.
Maduro and his Colombian counterpart, Juan Manuel Santos, agreed to the gradual reopening in a phone call on Monday night.
Meanwhile, higher denomination bills are being distributed to keep up with the rrampant inflation. Táchira Governor Jose Gregorio Vielma Mora on Tuesday confirmed the arrival of the first batch of 500-bolivar bills.