Zulians hope for the best of the full reopening of the border in Paraguachón

Zulians hope for the best of the full reopening of the border in Paraguachón

The land crossing between Venezuela and Colombia through the Paraguachón border point was open to the public, although infrastructure problems have been revealed on the Venezuelan side. Inhabitants of Zulia state believe that it will positively impact the commerce sector, but they also alert about security problems

On January 1, the land border between Venezuela and Colombia reopened. It was announced as total, although the news largely focused on the border crossings of the Táchira state, including the opening of the Atanasio Girardot bridge, hitherto called Tienditas.

The following day, the mayor of the Colombian municipality of Maicao, Mohamad Jaafar Dasuki Hajj, reported that the passage of private vehicles through the Paraguachón tollbooth was normalized. On January 2, authorities from both countries met at the border to prepare the necessary conditions for the security of the area, after ordering the opening for the passage of public transport.

But on January 3, vehicular circulation through the Paraguachón international toll booth remained suspended, at least according to the testimonials of some users. “Equal umbrella! No one crossed in cars, nor is there any change in the supposed passage announced for the beginning of the year, ”reported Algimiro Montiel, a correspondent in the area, through his Twitter account. The journalist added that day that “it seems impossible” to reopen the circulation of vehicles through the border toll “at least in the first quarter of the year, unless they repair the impassable road on the Venezuelan side.”

In any case, in Zulia state the expectation is because a normalization of the land border crossing is beneficialfor both countries

«At the regional level it will bring an undoubted change, due to the increase in imports on a larger scale, which represents a greater circulation of passers-by. This benefits the local population that lives in the vicinity of the Caribbean trunk road, especially throughout the length and breadth of the Venezuelan Guajira, who for years have made the most of this border area for trade as the main source of work,” says Ana Chacín, resident of the Sinamaica parish, Guajira municipality.

For more than seven years the border crossing through Paraguachón was closed. Some merchants have faced barriers to survival during all this time, since it is common for them to go to Maicao to look for merchandise with which to replenish their businesses. In September 2022, a complete, free and legal reopening of the border point was expected, but it was confirmed that only heavy-duty vehicles could do it.

Ana Chacín is located 45 minutes from the Colombian-Venezuelan border and for many years she has been in charge of supporting relatives who live from the trade in Caimarechico, a sector of the Guajira of Zulia. “There is a favorable outlook for the population in general, at the local level the influx could increase the demands, which would mean greater competition at the import level”he emphasizes.

Zulian Leandro David believes that “the citizens win, although the border was always ‘open’ due to illegal crossings. The most benefited are the citizens, mainly due to the commercial, economic and social exchange. The export and import of products nourishes the national market and thus facilitates access to food both in Venezuela and in Colombia, where there is a more stable economy.”

They agree that normalizing binational trade is necessary to mitigate the illegal passage of products from Colombia, as has been the case for a decade. «It is the fundamental thing. The circulation of Colombian products, both food and other types, will bring significant gains to the commercial economy of the state. These relationships needed to be mended. Also the transit of people who live in one country and work in another and vice versa. Others who study in the same way, “adds David. He does not forget that the trails are mainly river crossings controlled by irregular groups.

Inhabitants of Zulia state do not stop putting the accent on security, beyond commercial aspects, in areas dominated by armed and criminal groups.

«The state is not prepared for a reopening of the border, administratively Zulia is quite decayed. Possibly it will benefit Zulia, especially Maracabo. On the one hand, commerce will move, but it would also affect informal commerce because for years the issue of smuggling in Zulia is very broad and is rooted in the citizenry, “says Joel Carly.

Carly is wary of the type of exchange between the two nations. “It is not only reopening the border, it is not only trade, we do not know what type of products they are going to bring from there to here, nor what Venezuelans will take from here to there. This only opens the possibility to drug trafficking, kidnappings and more », he believes.

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