BOGOTA – The Colombian government estimates that more than 35,000 Venezuelans crossed the border to buy food and medicine in Colombia on Saturday when a border passage between the two countries was kept open for several hours.
The crossing of citizens through the border pass connecting the Colombian city of Cucuta and Venezuela’s San Antonio del Tachira took place in an orderly manner and under security, according to a Foreign Ministry statement.
The ministry said the border passage was opened at 7 a.m. local time (1200 GMT) and Venezuelans were permitted to enter the country until 3:30 p.m., then required to cross back by 8 p.m.
The passage will be kept open Sunday between 6 a.m. and 5 p.m.
Colombian immigration authorities, the army and the police will increase and strengthen their presence and monitoring of the metropolitan zone to preserve public order.
The objectives during these two days are to show solidarity with people seeking temporary entry into Colombian territory, and to cooperate in matters that contribute positively in the border region, the ministry said.
The border passes between the Venezuelan state of Tachira and the Colombian department of North Santander (Norte de Santander) – whose capital is Cucuta – were closed on Aug. 19 last year on the orders of Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro as part of his campaign against smuggling and alleged paramilitary groups.
The measure was extended later to all border checkpoints between the two countries, which share a 2,219-kilometer land border.