The land crossing between Venezuela and Colombia through the Simón Bolívar international bridge has been reopened Monday after 32 months, following the removal of the three containers which blocked the way, it was announced.
Heavy machinery was brought on the Venezuelan side to the site early Monday morning to clear traffic between the state of Táchira and the city of Cúcuta.
The containers had been placed there in February 2019, after a concert was held there to send humanitarian aid to Venezuela and which Caracas had interpreted as an interventionist act.
Let's give biosecure openness to binational trade, said Venezuelan Executive Vice President Delcy Rodríguez, while Colombian President Iván Duque insisted warned that the opening is carried out in an “orderly” manner.
Starting tomorrow we will be opening trade between our countries, Rodríguez said in a message through Venezolana de Televisión (VTV), during which she recalled that border security was to be shared between the two countries.
The Vice President also listed the evils and violence caused by the neighbouring nation and asked Colombian authorities to reinforce security along the border to prevent the overflow of criminal gangs and drug traffickers.
She also took advantage of the announcement of the reopening to call for an end to intolerance and political hatred towards Venezuela and an end to the conspiratorial intentions from the Colombian side to repeatedly attack “Venezuelan stability.
From Bogotá, Duque thanked Venezuelan self-appointed interim President Juan Guaidó and those he called the democratic resistance, for making the reopening of the border possible, without mentioning or giving any credit to the regime headed by President Nicolás Maduro.
Colombia is also willing to start an orderly process so that we can guarantee border crossing, but I will be very clear: this is not going to be because of chambonadas (carelessness) neither is it going to be sudden, said Dique.
The Colombian head of state also pointed out he had have instructed customs and migration authorities in Cúcuta so that the reopening of the border crossing is gradual, guaranteeing above all the security and biosecurity of the Colombian people.
Duque also highlighted that the reopening benefits our peoples and then addressed the democratic siege” against Caracas, which has yielded no political change across the border.
In August 2015, Venezuela closed its borders for the passage of vehicles to and from Colombia and in February 2019 it broke relations with Bogota and installed containers at the main border crossing to prevent the passing of an alleged humanitarian aid caravan the Maduro regime viewed as a Trojan horse.
The opening of the border aroused mixed feelings in Cúcuta, where people for years had grown used to the wall separating them from the neighbouring country and with the ensuing null relations between the two peoples. Nevertheless, small traders feared the reopening would only benefit large companies and unions.
At the same time, traders claimed that biosafety protocols would make commercial exchange difficult, which is why the migrant population and binational families resort to illegal steps.
Simultaneous with the reopening was the formation of a 4,000-strong squad made up of Colombian Army and Police staff in the city of Cúcuta.