Colombia and Venezuela to reopen shared border to cargo transport

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The easing of sanctions comes as neighboring countries seek to normalize relations after years of tension.

The presidents of Colombia and Venezuela have announced that commercial flights between the two countries will resume and cargo transport will be allowed across their shared border after a year-long shutdown on 26 September.

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Friday’s announcement is the latest example of increased cooperation between the neighboring countries since left-wing Colombian President Gustavo Petro took office in August on a promise to re-establish formal ties with Venezuela.

The 2,200-km (1,370-mile) shared border between Colombia and Venezuela is currently open to pedestrian traffic, but only limited cargo transport.

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“We reaffirm the government’s commitment to restore fraternal ties,” Petro Told On Friday, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro also tweeted on Twitter that “exchanges and cooperation between our peoples are starting on the right foot”.

“In addition, we will resume flights between Caracas-Bogota and Valencia-Bogota,” Maduro said.

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Last month, the two countries restored full diplomatic relations after a three-year break. The two countries have now accepted each other’s ambassadors, but the two heads of state have yet to announce a state visit.

Under Petro’s right-wing predecessor Ivan Duque, Colombia refused to recognize Maduro as Venezuela’s leader after his 2018 re-election, which Duque called a fraud.

Colombia’s ambassador arrived in Venezuela last month and was received by Venezuela’s Deputy Foreign Minister Rander Pea Ramírez, who tweeted that “our historic ties call upon us to work together for the happiness of our people”.

Caracas broke ties with Bogotá in 2019 when members of the Venezuelan opposition tried to cross through Colombian territory with trucks loaded with food and medicine.

It also closed the border, saying the aid thwarted a coup attempt by the opposition, backed by the United States. Embassies and consulates in both countries were closed and flights between neighbors were stopped.

Maduro ordered the closure of the legal crossing point in 2015 following an incident during an anti-smuggling operation at the border. Foot traffic eventually resumed, and some freight continued to move north via a bridge.

The closure has not ended the transportation of various goods, some of them by armed groups on dirt roads in Venezuela. Criminal groups have also used the streets for smuggling operations.

Colombia has previously accused Venezuela of providing aid and shelter to armed groups in the border region, a claim bolstered by a Human Rights Watch report in March.

The Venezuela-Colombian Chamber of Economic Integration has estimated that reopening crossings to vehicular traffic could increase commerce from $406 million last year to an estimated $1.2 billion this year.

The Venezuelan government has said economic activity could exceed $4bn within a year of the border fully reopening.



Credit: www.aljazeera.com /

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