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Avellon Williams  

VENEZUELA- The Simón Bolvar international bridge was filled with Venezuelans and Colombians gathered to celebrate the reopening of the international border following the restoration of diplomatic and economic relations between the two countries.

President Nicolas Maduro /Image, BBCN/

A day of history and transcendence was declared by Venezuelan president Nicolás Maduro before it was officially opened.

“We are resuming relations and taking firm steps to advance in the total and absolute opening of the border between sister peoples: Colombia and Venezuela,” wrote Maduro on Twitter.

Taking part in the ceremonies personally was Colombian president Gustavo Petro, who has been working to improve bilateral relations with Venezuela since taking office in August.

President Gustavo Petro /Image, ALJ/

“This is a symbol of unity, [the border] should never be closed,” said Petro as he walked along the Simón Bolívar international bridge, the locale chosen for the ceremonial event.

Seven years after the border was closed and three years after diplomatic relations broke down, the border has been reopened. As a result of Petro’s predecessor Iván Duque’s decision to recognize Juan Guaidó as self-declared “interim president,” Caracas and Bogotá ruptured ties in February 2019. As a result of Duque’s attempts to violate Venezuelan borders under the guise of delivering “humanitarian aid” through the Simón Bolvarinternational bridge, diplomatic relations have broken down completely.

Simon Bolvar International Bridge /Image, AA/

In the end, the effort to deliver so-called aid turned out to be part of a Washington-led strategy to embarrass Maduro internationally. As a result of the violent incursion on the Simón Bolvar international bridge, former US National Security Advisor John Bolton admitted that it was a coup plot designed to overthrow the democratically elected government in Caracas.

Former U.S. National Security Advisor John Bolton /Image, CNBC/

First to use the reopened crossing Monday was a Venezuelan truck adorned with Venezuelan and Colombian flags. According to reports, a truck carrying medicines crossed from Colombia to Venezuela first.

As part of his speech following the reopening of the border, Petro talked about how organized crime groups filled the void left by the closure, which allowed the movement of people and contraband to flourish.

According to the Colombian president, this decision would result in a “qualitative leap” in human rights protection.

/Image, YT/

During Petro’s presentation, he focused on the commercial benefits that reopening the border would bring. According to analysts, the restoration of economic relations must benefit communities in both Venezuela and Colombia, a point made by Colombia’s head of state.

“The first beneficiaries should be those who live in the border region,” said Petro.

The Colombian delegation was welcomed by Venezuelan politicians including Fredy Bernal, governor of the Venezuelan state of Táchira, and Félix Plasencia, Venezuelan ambassador to Colombia. Political representatives held a white flower representing Colombia and Venezuela’s peaceful relationship as the anthems of both countries were played.

According to Colombian Senator Gloria Flores, it’s time to reverse the “hatred and xenophobia” instilled among both countries’ populations.

Colombian Senator Gloria Flores /Image, AIL/

“We are part of a common path, foreign interests cannot continue to divide us, they will never be able to separate us again,” said Flores.

In the coming days, Flores, a member of Petro’s ruling coalition, said lawmakers from Colombia and Venezuela are working on a meeting between legislators to deepen efforts to rebuild bilateral relations. Additionally, the Tienditas international bridge is expected to open soon, according to authorities.

In a video posted on social media, Senator César Pachón, also of the ruling “Historic Pact,” describes the delivery of the first sack of potatoes to Venezuela and talks about the benefits of reestablishing trade relations.

Senator Cesar Pachon /Image, B7D/

On Friday, Venezuela delivered raw materials to Barranquilla, Colombia, for fertilizer production. A key foreign asset under the control of the Guaidó-led opposition for years, Monómerosis now back under the government’s management after years of mismanagement.

Historically, monómeros supplied nearly half of the fertilizers and 70 percent of the agrochemicals used by Colombian coffee, potato, and palm oil producers.

Ivan Velasquez /Image, KK/

The establishment of peace in the border region is one of the pending issues in the bilateral relationship. On Saturday, Colombian and Venezuelan defense ministers, Iván Velásquezand Vladimir Padrino López, met at the border with leaders pledging to cooperate on security and trade issues.

Vladimir Padrino López /Image, RN/

Further economic integration strategies were also pledged by leaders from both countries, with Colombia proposing a train connecting the Colombian city of Cucuta with the Venezuelan Maracaibo region.

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Avellon Williams

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