Published On: Tue, Dec 20th, 2016

Venezuela ageed to Gradual Reopening of Border, starting Tuesday

nsnbc : After a phone conversation with Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro agreed to gradually open the border between the two countries, starting Tuesday.

(archives)

(archives)

Maduro closed the border last week while withdrawing 100 bolivar banknotes from circulation. Meanwhile, the issuing of new banknotes has been delayed. Maduro explained his administration’s move as an attempt to “deal a blow to Colombia-based mafias”. Over the weekend Maduro announced that the border would remain closed until January 2.

The decision prompted widespread criticism in both Venezuela and Colombia. Maduro’s decision to reopen the border gradually, starting Tuesday, came after a telephone conversation with Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos on Monday.

Venezuela’s Minister of Popular Power for Communication and Information, (amongst skeptics a.k.a. Ministry of Propaganda) Ernesto Villegas, the two presidents agreed “to progressively reopen the border to the level that had already existed with strict vigilance and security.”

Villages added that the two leaders agreed to establish communication between the Central Bank of Venezuela and the Central Bank of Colombia to prevent “attacks on the bolivar.”

Venezuelan Defense Minister Vladimir Padrino, for his part, tweeted that he had discussed with his Colombian counterpart, Luis Carlos Villegas, increasing “operational coordination against the mafias.”

Colombian President Santos has indicated his willingness to cooperate. However, he also insisted that Venezuela’s issues don’t lie with Colombia and can’t be resolved by closing the border between the two countries.

Speaking on television on Monday Santos said: “Closing the border suits no one and we advocate that this situation can be resolved as soon as possible because the problem is not in Colombia. Venezuela’s problem, it’s economic situation, is not on the border, nor in Colombia, it is there in Venezuela.”

Venezuela's runaway inflation. Click on image to enlarge.

Venezuela’s runaway inflation. Click on image to enlarge.

Tens of thousands of Venezuelans regularly cross the border to purchase goods that can’t be found in Venezuela in Colombia. Maduro’s “initiative” is more likely to deal a blow to legitimate businesses than to “mafias”.

Among those affected are Colombian shop keepers who have accepted Venezuelan currency. The “initiative” has been widely criticized and will, according to many independent experts further undermine Venezuela’s credibility as a regional trading partner.

Venezuela has been severely affected by the global drop in oil prices. Venezuela’s ruling PSUV administration largely blames a the drop in oil prices and “economic warfare” for the country’s runaway inflation. Meanwhile, there has been very little introspection about how the Maduro administration’s and the PSUV’s economic policies have contributed to the crisis.

CH/L – nsnbc 20.12.2016

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