After almost a year of closing, Colombia and Venezuela on August 13 formally re-opened their border crossings, allowing goods-hungry Venezuelans to purchase food and medicine in neighboring Colombia.
The exciting scenes happened after both presidents reached agreement days ago for a gradual and controlled re-opening of the border.
(Soundbite, Spanish) Juan Colmenares, Venezuelan Student
“I come from the city of Barquisimeto, after 12 to 14 hours of travel, to buy food and bring them back to my house. Well, this is the reality we live in Venezuela.”
According to the Colombian authorities, nearly 30,000 people crossed the Simon Bolivar International Bridge on the day, which connects the cities of Cucuta in Colombia and San Antonio del Tachira in Venezuela.
Crosswalk was allowed between 05:00 a.m. and 20:00 p.m. local time in Colombia, and between 06:00 a.m. and 21:00 p.m. local time in Venezuela, and later private vehicles and cargo were given passage, too.
(Soundbite, Soanish) Dicson Vergara, Venezuelan Merchant
“All this should lead us to really become aware of how we should treat the border, with humanity, humanism and brotherhood. We do not have to say we are brothers in word, but we have to consider it in this regard.”
Venezuela closed its border with Colombia on August 19 last year, in response to rampant trafficking and paramilitary attacks on its military force.