Venezuela Opens Border Again but Many Return Empty Handed

Many Venezuelans found goods in Colombia to be prohibitively expensive as a result of an ongoing transport strike, which has led to a spike in prices. 

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Venezuelans return empty-handed from the Colombian border city of Cúcuta on July 16, 2016. (@GobiernoTachira)
Venezuelans return empty-handed from the Colombian border city of Cúcuta on July 16, 2016. (@GobiernoTachira)
By Telesur English
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Venezuela opened its border with Colombia for a second time this month with thousands crossing into the city of Cucuta to buy food and basic goods, however many returned empty handed due to the exorbitant prices of goods.

President Nicolas Maduro shut the border last year in an effort to crack down on smuggling of subsidized products and cross-border crime.

The governor of the Venezuelan state of Tachira, Jose Vielma Mora, opened the border last Sunday, attracting some 35,000 people, and this weekend allowed crossings both Saturday and Sunday. 

Crowds of people flooded the bridge that links San Antonio to the Colombian city of Cucuta to cross the border on foot.

Bus terminals were packed and hotels filled to capacity in the border town of San Antonio, with many claiming to have traveled hundreds of miles to stock up on goods in short supply in Venezuela. President Maduro has repeatedly accused managers and owners of certain private companies of engaging in an “economic war” against his government by deliberately limiting the availability of basic goods.

However, many Venezuelans reportedly returned home empty handed or with only a few products after finding the prices of good to be prohibitively expensive. Colombia is dealing with its own supply problem as a result of an ongoing transport strike, which has already lasted more than a month.

The transport strike has also led to a spike in prices. 

“Goods like flour and sugar are scarce now, so the supply is limited,” said Pedro, a Colombian grocery store owner. 

Some stores even implemented a limit on the amount of goods that could be purchased. 

Governor Vielma Mora had warned that many Venezuelans would be disappointed once they realized the prices of goods in neighboring Colombia. 

The government of Tachira also reported that many contraband goods, sold at subsidized prices inside Venezuela, were being resold at exorbitant prices in stores in the border city of La Parada.

Colombia's government said 44,000 people crossed on Saturday and a further 61,000 entered on Sunday.