Villa del Rosario (Colombia) – Several thousand Venezuelans crossed the border with Colombia on Saturday, partially reopened the day before by President Nicolas Maduro, in search of supplies and drugs, AFP journalists said.
On Friday, the Socialist president ordered the reopening of the border with Colombia in the western state of Tachira, near which the international community had massed its humanitarian aid refused by Caracas.
In the early hours of Saturday, thousands of people rushed to the border bridges connecting the two countries and long queues were visible throughout the day, found AFP journalists.
"My two daughters have dengue, they have a fever and I had to come for care in Colombia"says Belky Rangel, 34, who is about to burst into tears after waiting three hours with her five- and eight-year-old children to reach the city of Cucuta on the Colombian side.
At midday, 18,000 people had crossed the border from Venezuela and 8,000 from Colombia, told AFP the head of the Migration Service in Colombia, Christian Krüger.
Before the border closed in February, about 30,000 people crossed the Simon Bolivar International Bridge, which connects the city of San Antonio del Tachira, Venezuela, to Cucuta, according to migration services.
Containers deposited on the Venezuelan side to prevent any entry of humanitarian aid, considered by the Chavista power as a pretext for foreign military intervention, were still in place, preventing any transport of goods.
"They have not removed the containers, the passage is difficult, there are many people"On the Venezuelan side," says 55-year-old Carlos Julio Pérez, who waited several hours before he was able to attend a medical consultation in Cucuta.
When the border was closed, many Venezuelans ventured on the clandestine trails linking the two countries, at the mercy of smugglers and armed groups.
According to the United Nations, more than three million Venezuelans have left their country since 2015 to flee the worst economic crisis in the recent history of this oil-rich country.