Caracas, June 8 (IANS) Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro has announced the reopening of his country’s border crossings with Colombia.
“In full exercise of our sovereignty, I have ordered the opening of the border crossings with Colombia in the Tachira State, as of this Saturday #8Jun. We are peaceful people who firmly defend our independence and self-determination,” Maduro said in a tweet on Friday.
On February 22, Maduro ordered the border crossings between Venezuela and Colombia in Tachira state to be closed, a day before the Venezuelan opposition unsuccessfully tried to bring in humanitarian aid by force to relieve shortages of medical supplies, reports Efe news.
Since then, the crossings at the three of the four bridges between the two countries in the area had been restricted, although access for people with medical issues and students are allowed.
In the last few years, the Venezuelan government has ordered its land and maritime borders to be closed on several occasions, alleging foreign interference and other causes acting against the so-called Bolivarian Revolution that began under Maduro’s mentor and predecessor, Hugo Chavez.
Despite the closures, the flow of migrants between Colombia and Venezuela has continued through irregular or informal border crossings.
Venezuela says that it has taken more than five million Colombians, while the UN on Friday estimated that four million Venezuelans had left the country since 2016 due to the acute economic crisis gripping the oil-rich nation.