Two men on motorcycles attacked soldiers along Venezuela's northwestern border with Colombia on Wednesday. According to regional officials, three soldiers and a civilian were wounded because of the attack that took place in Tachira state. One soldier was seriously hurt.
Initially, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro closed the border for 72 hours, but after the attack he declared a state of emergeny in part of the frontier region.
“As part of measures to restore order, peace, tranquility and justice ... I have decided to declare a state of emergency in several municipalities of eastern Tachira state, President Maduro said.
He also added, “Let’s have a deep reorganisation of the economic, political, social, cultural order at the border.”
Colombia's President Juan Manuel Santos meanwhile urged Venezuela on Saturday to reconsider its decision to close its border.
"If it's for security reasons, the response should not be to close the border. It rather should be to cooperate more effectively with Colombian authorities," Santos said.
“I’ll see if I can speak to President Maduro, to see if we can solve this situation as quickly as possible because innocent people are the ones suffering,” Santos added.
Smuggling has become a profitable business in Venezuela in recent years. The Venezuela government regulates the minumum prices of many basic goods that are smuggled into Colombia.
“Up to 40 percent of basic goods and 100,000 barrels of gasoline per day are smuggled, for a total loss of US$3.6 billion per year” according to Venezuela government records.
“Total Venezuelan exports to Colombia dropped 50%, from USD 213 million to USD 106 million, compared to the first five months of 2014,” the Venezuelan-Colombian Economic Integration Chamber (Cavecol) said.