Venezuela sends 17 000 troops to seal Colombia border
COLOMBIA NEWS – Venezuela has deployed 17,000 troops along its border with Colombia to prevent food and oil smuggling, an army official said Monday in the western border state of Tachira.
“We have deployed 17,000 troops along the border and these are sufficient to ensure the fight against food smuggling,” said Vladimir Padrino Lopez, head of the Operational Command of the Venezuelan Armed Forces.
Lopez was in Tachira to inaugurate a bi-national command and control center to stem the smuggling.
On Saturday, the Venezuelan government announced a cross-border traffic restriction for private vehicles and individuals between the hours of 10 p.m. and 5 a.m., and for cargo vehicles from 6 p.m.. Lopez said the restriction would be valid for 30 days and afterward its impact would be assessed.
Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro and his Colombian counterpart Juan Manuel Santos agreed on the measures on Aug. 1 as they met to discuss a joint strategy to combat food and oil smuggling that have affected both nations’ economy.
In the first seven months of this year, 21,000 tons of smuggled food and more than 40 million liters of gasoline have been seized, Lopez said.
Venezuelan authorities have said that around 40 percent of the goods sold at government-subsidized prices in Venezuela are smuggled by “mafias” to Colombia where the products are sold at higher prices, costing Venezuela 3.7 billion U.S. dollars per year