Caracas, January 9th 2017 (venezuelanalysis.com) - Colombia’s Foreign Minister María Ángela Holguín confirmed that her government will not re-allow vehicles to cross the border into Venezuela following Caracas’ decision to sell low-priced gas in foreign currency in two border states earlier this month.
Last December 29th Caracas announced that it would begin to charge in foreign currency for gas purchases at stations in Ureña in Táchira and Paraguachó in Zulia as of January 2nd. The pilot initiative is aimed at ending the contraband of Venezuelan subsidised gas - which has long plagued the Venezuela-Colombia border - by undercutting illegal gasoline smugglers.
Nonetheless Colombian gas providers could also find themselves losing out, and Holguin’s comments on Friday suggest that the new scheme could face obstruction from Bogotá.
“We are not going to open the border for cars, we are not going to change our position because President Maduro has taken the decision to sell gas on his side of the border… We took the decision to stop depending on Venezuela, and furthermore, we are not going to allow our side of the border to be filled up with contraband fuel,” commented the foreign minister.
Nonetheless, Holguin went on to state that Venezuela’s closure of the border last year had been successful in stabilising the notoriously unruly district. The land crossing to Colombia was re-opened last August after having been closed for almost 12 months on orders from Caracas, as well as temporarily closed for a short period at the end of last December while Venezuela made reforms to its currency system.
“Before the closure the Cucuta border was chaos, there were illegal gas sellers all over the place. With the closure we have achieved almost complete control and are supplying the city with subsidised gas, a decision by the national government so as not to depend on Venezuelan fuel,” she stated.
During his weekly television show on Sunday, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro responded to the Colombian FM’s comments, stating that he would work to build a “healthy” border with his Colombian counterpart Manuel Santos. However, Maduro warned Holguín not to attempt to “give advice” to Venezuela.
“Nobody in this world gives advice to Venezuela, Venezuela is sovereign, independent, and Bolivar’s homeland,” remarked the president.