Thousands of Venezuelans flee through border with Colombia
Venezuelan citizens cross the border into Colombia on Wednesday, July 26, 2017, in Cúcuta (Colombia). About 560,000 Venezuelan citizens have requested a Border Mobility Card (TMF) that will facilitate their entry to areas bordering Colombia after receiving approval for their "pre-registration," immigration authorities said today. EFE / Schneyder Mendoza
After the Venezuelan opposition had called for a 48-hour national strike, in retaliation for the impending Constituent Assembly convened by Nicolás Maduro on July 30, thousands of Venezuelans have fallen into despair, making last minute purchases, trying to get some basic inputs, for fear of the outcome that can bring the measure.
According to La Nación newspaper, the Venezuelan opposition coalition, Mesa de la Unidad Democrática (MUD) has called for a week of sharp protests, including the so-called Toma de Caracas, for Friday, "where it is sought to repeat the demonstration of September 1 last year, when more than a million people marched in the capital."
The so-called "nervous shopping", in which citizens have tried by all means possible to get some kind of food - as if it were a call to war - were driven not only by the opposition deputies, but also by the embassy of The United States, "which advised its citizens to obtain water and food for 72 hours."
But the Caribbean country suffers from a severe humanitarian crisis, with a shortage of 90% of basic supplies, including food and medicines, so many citizens have decided to cross the border with Colombia during the last 48 hours. According to Colombian immigration authorities, some 50,000 people have crossed the border in recent days, and the neighboring country has imposed new border controls on the international bridges Francisco de Paula Santander and Simón Bolívar on the border with Cúcuta.
According to the newspaper El Tiempo, "the streets of Cúcuta are filled with groups of people wandering with suitcases and improvised luggage. Those who try to source food have crammed the supermarkets of the city.”
The director of Migration Colombia, Christian Krüger, said that authorities have a contingency plan ready for several scenarios, "even a massive exodus from the neighboring country," the Huffington Post reported.
Migration Colombia has created a Border Mobility Card, to facilitate the movements of those living in the border area, which has about 2,200 kilometers. According to the report, "the authorities say that the Venezuelan crisis is a problem for the region, not only for Colombia," considering that about 2,000 Venezuelans have crossed the border with the intention of continuing their journey to Ecuador, Peru and Chile.
To the tension that the Venezuelan people live, it is added the suspension of flights announced by the airline Avianca, who informed through a statement that will stop operating the Bogotá-Caracas-Bogotá and Lima-Caracas-Lima routes, starting Wednesday, August 16, according to the official account of the airline on Twitter.
The possibility that the Constituent Assembly of Maduro destroys what remains of democracy in the Caribbean country is the most likely scenario. With a social and economic crisis that has resulted in clashes in the streets between the civilian population and the Bolivarian National Guard, and the total ignorance of the National Assembly by the government - which has even decided to apprehend the new Supreme Court justices designated by the body - the few Venezuelans who had decided to stay in the country, have taken their few belongings and have begun to flee massively.