Colombia-Venezuela border reopens after agreement

Presidents of Columbia and Venezuela agree to open border between two countries

Photo by: Reuters
Photo by: Reuters

Venezuela-Colombia border reopens after being closed for a month, as the two president decide to resolve the matter.

President Nicolas Maduro of Venezuela and Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos, held a meeting in Ecuador to discuss the issue and also decided they would return ambassadors to each other's capitals.

The two countries have been engaged in a major diplomatic conflict, after the Venezuelan president closed part of the border, when a group of smugglers attacked Venezuelan soldiers during an anti-smuggling patrol which resulted in injuring 1 citizen and some of the soldiers.

"To clean up paramilitary activity, crime, smuggling, kidnapping and drug trafficking, I have decided to close the border for zone number two in the state of Tachira," Maduro said on Friday.

Maduro stated that the attack was caused by Colombian right-wing paramilitaries. Smuggling business has been an issue for quite some time due to the price differences between the two countries.

The attack caused some 20,000 Colombian refugees to flee the country with all of their belongings. It was reported that some houses were destroyed, while some people left voluntarily.

"The constitution and the law give me the power to declare this state of exception for 60 days, extendable for 60 days," Maduro said in a televised address.

"This decree provides ample power to civil and military authorities to restore peace."

"We've been discovering a frightful reality about how the criminals and paramilitaries operate. I'm under the obligation to free Venezuela of all this."

After the talks, Maduro stated that the peace has won and will continue to exist between the countries.

"Common sense, dialogue and peace between our peoples and our countries have triumphed today," said Maduro.

At the same time, President Santos said Venezuela "should have respected the rights of Colombians" who had to leave the country and cross over the border.

"I agree that criminal organizations working in the border area is a big problem, but the best way to deal with it is by working together," Santos added.

The meetings held between the two presidents were also attended by Uruguayan President, Tabare Vasquez and his Ecuadorian counterpart, Rafael Correa.

TRTWorld and agencies