Tomorrow’s symbolic act will take place on the Simón Bolívar international bridge, the main passage between the two countries and where thousands of people cross on foot every day, although there is still not much clarity about what daily traffic will be like from now on. .
Precisely the Minister of Commerce, Industry and Tourism of Colombia, Germán Umaña, assured today that tomorrow, during the opening, he will reveal the details of the operation of the passage of heavy cargo through the different border crossings.
The event has lost its shine because so far neither the president of Colombia, Gustavo Petro, nor that of Venezuela, Nicolás Maduro, have confirmed their participation and, possibly, they will not.
The Colombian Government confirmed that the Minister of Commerce will attend; that of Transport, Guillermo Reyes, and that of Foreign Relations, Álvaro Leyva, as well as local authorities, but not President Petro.
On the Venezuelan side there is still no confirmation of who will be there, although several ministers have visited the border in recent days.
In addition to the reactivation of trade between the two countries, another objective of the reopening of the border is an opportunity to close “forever the trails”, the illegal steps used by citizens of the two countries as an alternative to closing pedestrian crossings, According to Umaña
“In addition to the fact that diplomatic relations with Venezuela have already been reestablished, the ambassadors (from Colombia, Armando) Benedetti and (from Venezuela, Félix) Plasencia are already fully active, we are working on the pertinent part to reactivate the consulates,” express.
FIRST FLIGHT FROM CARACAS TO BOGOTÁ
On the other hand, Ambassador Benedetti confirmed on Saturday that tomorrow the Venezuelan airline Turpial Airlines will operate the first flight between Caracas and Bogotá after receiving the endorsement of the Colombian authorities.
“The Venezuelan airline Turpial Airlines has just received authorization from @AerocivilCol (Civil Aeronautics) to land in Bogotá next Monday, September 26, from Caracas. The first of 27 flights planned until December 30. Not long to go!” Benedetti said on Twitter.
This after Benedetti himself assured this week that Conviasa, which was going to operate that first flight, can no longer do so because “it is sanctioned on the Clinton List”, the US Government’s blacklist of companies and individuals linked to drug trafficking.
The reopening has brought hope to the border population, who trust that the normalization of relations will bring a new breath to a region that has been hit by the prolonged closure.
“This progress in rebuilding trade relations is very important for both countries, for both territories,” said the governor of the department of Norte de Santander, Silvano Serrano, who valued that this is a fact that “men and women of border” have waited for seven years.
However, Serrano is aware that tomorrow a “gradual process” will start to “be able to achieve normality in that relationship (in which) that rupture, that closure should not have occurred.”
Bilateral trade, despite the ups and downs of recent decades, reached a record 7.2 billion dollars in 2008, but the deterioration of the relationship brought down trade figures by more than 90%.
In 2013, the year Maduro came to power as Hugo Chávez’s successor, the commercial exchange fell to 1,846 million dollars, bottomed out in 2017 when it fell to 116.4 million dollars and last year it was 268, 6 million dollars, according to the National Administrative Department of Statistics (DANE).
180 DEGREE SHIFT
The pedestrian crossing over the Simón Bolívar and over the Francisco de Paula Santander international bridge, which will also be reopened tomorrow, maintains the vitality that characterizes it. Most of those who pass through there are pendulum migrants, generally people who live in Venezuela and travel to Cúcuta to look for food and basic necessities.
In the Simón Bolívar, for example, everything is already arranged for the trucks to pass, even in recent days the officials of both countries have painted posts and fences that were in poor condition due to disuse.
However, the Tienditas bridge, which has the most modern infrastructure and is the widest, will not be enabled yet because it is still blocked by containers that the Venezuelan government put in 2019 when the opposition Juan Guaidó tried to enter the country, without success. , humanitarian aid.
The reopening will start at 9:00 in the morning (2:00 p.m. GMT) and, according to Minister Umaña, “the protocol acts will be held in which we and the Venezuelan authorities will be, we will give each other the pertinent greeting (…) the hymns of our and Then the tractor-trailers (trucks) will pass, which are programmed so that the border will never be closed again.”
Regardless of what happens, the border population looks forward to a full reopening, which also sets the pace for a new bilateral relationship after years of political and ideological tensions.