CHRISTIANITY DAILY

Over 100,000 Venezuelans Cross Into Colombia to Buy Food and Necessities

Venezuela economic crisis 2016
(Photo : María Alejandra Mora/Wikimedia/CC) A protester holding a sign saying, "I protest for the scarcity. Where can we get these?"

Over 100,000 Venezuelans waited on an international bridge to enter Colombia so that they could buy food, toiletries, and medicine which are hardly available in any of the country's stores.

The government of Venezuela had closed the borders a year ago, but briefly ordered them open twice this week.

Governments made the decision to open the borders after 500 women, mostly dressed in white, tried to break through the border controls to buy food in Colombia on July 10.

Many of the Venezuelans sold their personal items to be able to afford food and groceries, and some invested their savings and emergency funds to provide for basic necessities of their families.

"This is money we had been saving for an emergency, and this is an emergency," Ramiro Ramirez, who crossed the border into Colombia with his wife, told CBS News. They left their two children with relatives. "It's scary to spend it, but we're finding less food each day and we need to prepare for what's coming."

The people traveled for hours from distant parts of the country in packed buses to enter into Colombia.

"Things are hard and we urgently need food. I have a granddaughter who's 2, and we can only give her mashed potatoes because we can't find rice or pasta, never mind milk," Mariana Montes told Wall Street Journal.

Venezuela has experienced cyclic economic crisis for decades, and the recent one is triggered by falling oil prices (the country's major source of revenue), and consequent balance of payment crunch and triple-digit inflation rates, all of which led to shortages of food and household product supplies.

Already the multinationals are closing offices in Venezuela, shops are short of basic supplies such as oil, rice, flour, and sugar, and if the situation gets worse, it might deal a hard blow to the country. Protests and riots have become more frequent in the country since September last year when economic conditions gradually started getting worse.

MarketWatch reported that inflation is predicted to rise and cross 1,640 pert by next year. The nation's currency Bolivar has taken a sharp plunge downward, and has made it more difficult for the people to afford products of daily necessities.

President Nicolas Maduro had closed the borders last year when some gangs were causing food shortages in the market by buying subsidized food and gasoline from Venezuela and selling them in Colombia at higher prices. The government said that closing the border would put an end to food smuggling from Venezuela to Colombia.

In 2003, the Venezuelan government had implemented price controls to make them more accessible to the poor. But, it was later observed that a huge proportion of the goods were bought by black market mafia and sold in Colombia at a profit.

Venezuelans need a special permit to cross into Colombia, but many had been illegally crossing the border since the food and grocery supplies squeezed in the market.

Tags Venezuela crisis 2016, Venezuelan Bolivar, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro

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