Authorities opened the border so that about 44,000 Venezuelans could cross into the neighboring country on Saturday and about 63,000 on Sunday, according to figures compiled by the Colombian Foreign Ministry
CUCUTA, Colombia – More than 100,000 Venezuelans crossed the border into Colombia over the weekend after the frontier was temporarily opened to allow them to buy food, basic items and medicines that are scarce in their country.
Initially, authorities in both countries had planned to open the “humanitarian corridor” at the border crossing points linking the Colombian city of Cucuta with the Venezuelan cities of San Antonio del Tachira and Ureña on Sunday, but the anticipation of that move spurred thousands of people to gather at the border starting on Saturday.
Given the presence of the Venezuelans, authorities opened the border so that about 44,000 people could cross into the neighboring country on Saturday and about 63,000 on Sunday, according to figures compiled by the Colombian Foreign Ministry.
Men, women and children – in many cases – emotionally thanked Colombia authorities for the move. Receiving them on the Colombian side were immigration agents, police and soldiers, who greeted them, took their photographs and even accepted their tearful embraces for allowing them to enter Colombia to buy food and other items.
Events unfolded on Saturday and Sunday without incident.
Colombia and Venezuela share a border 2,219 kilometers (1,375 miles) long, but the frontier was closed on the orders of Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro as part of a campaign to halt smuggling and the crossing of alleged paramilitaries.
Colombian authorities extended the hours the border will remain open until 11 p.m. Sunday so that Venezuelans can return to their home country.