domingo, noviembre 27, 2022
News

Venezuela-Colombia border reopens to trade as tensions ease

Trucks loaded with aluminum and medications have crossed a bridge linking Colombia and Venezuela for the first time in seven years, as the neighbouring countries continue to mend relations after years of political conflict.

The border reopening – which will see goods like coal, toilet paper and fruit moved through crossings between the Colombian city of Cucuta and the Venezuelan state of Tachira – was a key campaign promise of Colombia’s new left-wing President Gustavo Petro.

Trucks loaded with aluminum and medications have crossed a bridge linking Colombia and Venezuela for the first time in seven years, as the neighbouring countries continue to mend relations after years of political conflict.

The border reopening – which will see goods like coal, toilet paper and fruit moved through crossings between the Colombian city of Cucuta and the Venezuelan state of Tachira – was a key campaign promise of Colombia’s new left-wing President Gustavo Petro.

Petro has said he will recognise Maduro and work with the Venezuelan government on several issues, including fighting rebel groups along the porous border between the nations.

“May the opening of the border usher in prosperity for Colombia, Venezuela and all of the Americas,” Petro tweeted on Monday. Maduro also wrote on Twitter that the reopening marked the beginning of a new stage in bilateral ties based on “brotherhood, respect and peace”.

Commercial flights between the countries will also resume soon, potentially enabling billions of dollars in trade after years of icy bilateral relations and heavily-restricted economic ties. Caracas and Bogota also have announced intentions to restore military relations.

On Monday, four trucks from company Transporte Condor were loaded with toilet paper, plastic glasses, medical supplies and textiles to cross early from Cucuta. The goods, weighing 120 tonnes, are valued at some $80,000, manager Diego Bohorquez said.

The border has already been opened to pedestrians, with many Venezuelans crossing to buy basic goods amid their country’s long-running economic crisis. Cargo transport had previously only been allowed through one northern crossing.

The frontier has long been home to dozens of irregular crossings, fuel and food smuggling and drug trafficking. And the closures have not ended the transportation of various goods – including some over dirt roads by armed groups – into Venezuela. Criminal groups also have used the roads for trafficking operations.

Merchants on both sides of the 2,219km (1,379-mile) border have been eagerly awaiting the normalisation since Petro’s June election, hopeful open trade will allow them access to raw materials and new customers.

https://www.aljazeera.com/