Venezuelan women push past border controls for food

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(BBC) About 500 Venezuelan women in search of food have broken through border controls separating the western state of Tachira from neighbouring Colombia.

The women said their families were going hungry because of severe food shortages in Venezuela.

Hours later, they crossed back into Venezuela carrying basic goods and singing the Venezuelan anthem.

Venezuela is going through an economic crisis and many Venezuelans say they struggle to feed their families.

Concerted action

The women said they had organised to meet at the border via the instant messaging service WhatsApp. Dressed in white, they gathered on the bridge linking the cities of Urena in Venezuela and Cucuta in Colombia.

Hundreds of them pushed past the Venezuelan National Guard and walked across the border, which has been closed for almost a year. One of the women told Colombian media: “We’re desperate, we have nothing: no cooking oil, no sugar, no rice.”

Colombian citizens deported by Venezuela wait to cross the border in La Fria, Tachira state, Venezuela, on 29 August, 2015.

Border crossings between Venezuela’s Tachira state and Colombia have been closed since August (AFP photo)

After buying food and other goods which are scarce in Venezuela, they again gathered at the the border post asking the Colombian guards to let them pass.

They crossed back into Venezuela singing the national anthem. Others shouted “yes, we can” and thanked the Colombian security forces for letting them through.

‘Economic war’

Venezuela closed large parts of its border with Colombia in August 2015 to prevent subsidised good from being smuggled from Venezuela into Colombia.

Venezuelans who want to cross into Colombia in states where the border has been closed need a special permit to do so.But as the scarcity of food gets worse in Venezuela, many have crossed the porous border illegally.

People wait their turn to cross to Boca del Grita in Venezuela, over a river that marks the border near Puerto Santander, Colombia, June 3, 2016

Venezuelans have been crossing into Colombia by boat to buy food as seen here in Puerto Santanders (Reuters)

Colombian officials said a similar incident had happened in Puerto Santander, 60km north of Cucuta, in June, when 400 Venezuelans crossed into Colombia to buy essential goods.


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