Thousands of Venezuelans poured into neighboring Colombia recently after a temporary opening of the border was announced.
The desperate people tried to make the most of the opportunity by buying food and medicine supplies that are currently unavailable at home in the wake of the crippling economic collapse.
Over 100,000 Venezuelans lined up to cross over the Simon Bolivar international bridge to Colombia.
“We got here at 2 a.m. and slept here in the street. I came to buy medicine because I can’t find any in my country,” Erna Millan, 59, told Reuters. She drove 12 hours with the equivalent of about $30 in cash to buy medicine in Colombia.
“I also came to buy a Cesarean section kit for my daughter, who is about to give birth,” Millan added.
For several months Venezuelans have been standing in long lines to buy the most basic necessities such as flour and rice. The situation worsened to the extent that people started ransacking supermarkets. In fact, some residents were even filmed scavenging piles of garbage to stave off hunger.
Colombia has decided not to make allowance for any more temporary border openings, a move that leaves Venezuelans deprived of any kind of relief.
However, the Colombian government has called for a permanent reopening of the border.
Venezuela’s President Nicolas Maduro shut the border last year, citing smuggling and cross-border paramilitary infiltration fears.
Although he has supported the temporary border openings, according to Governor Jose Vielma of the Venezuelan border state of Tachira, it remains to be seen if he will permanently open the gates to Colombia.