Venezuela threatens to close borders to stop smuggling and shortages

Aiming to reduce the shortage in basic products and to stop smuggling, Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro threatened to close the air and maritime limits towards Aruba, Curaçao and Bonaire. Furtheremore, in the recent statement Maduro also added that a "new surprise" has been prepared for the cities in the Colombian border.

"Mafias are dismembering us, I have even thought about closing all means of communication, commercialization of all kinds, air and sea with Aruba, Curaçao and Bonaire at any time," argued Maduro. The mandatary explained that this measure would be taken to prevent the illegal selling of goods subsidized by Venezuelan government at convenient prices, in Caribbean islands and cities of the Colombian border.

This is not the first time Nicolas Maduro blames external agents for food and medicine shortage in the country. Commercial guild refutes this accusation, arguing the economic model of the ruling party has been responsible for the lack of production and planning. These events have produced an economic and social collapse in the country with the highest rates of inflation and malnutrition in Latin America.

Nicolas Maduro strategy with closing borders is not new. In 2015, the Colombian-Venezuelan border was closed for 72 hours with the purpose of setting control over the commercial and money exchange mafias of both countries. However, this period extended indefinitely and ended up with clashes between the parties leaving a balance of three officers injured.

This time the Venezuelan president did not state what his blocking strategy will be with cities bordering Colombia, but he indicated that his government has prepared some surprises for Cucuta and Maicao. "I've thought seriously about mafias that take everything from us: oil, rubbers (tires), shampoo, food, everything. And for Cucuta and Maicao we have a new surprise, this is all I can say for now", said Maduro during his speech for local media.

´Burglary by hunger'

Recent reports have exhibited a new form of crime in the nation cataloged as 'robo por hambre' (Burglary by hunger). There, common crime has stopped looking for luxuries or money, to snatch food from citizens’ hands. Older adults are the main victims of this scourge; nevertheless, the whole community has become target of criminals in daily contexts like walking in the streets, going to supermakets, using public transportation, among others. The food burglaries include rice, bread, flour, vegetables, etc.

Venezuela dependents highly on imports, but these have been drastically reduced due to the drop-in oil revenues that contribute with 96% of the country's total currency. Besides this problematic, the shortage on food and medicine, common violence, mass migration and inflation -that according to IMF will exceed 2,300% in 2018-, make uncertain the near economic recovery of this South American nation.

LatinAmerican Post | Krishna Jaramillo

Copy edited by Marcela Peñaloza


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