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BUCARAMANGA, Colombia — Colombia and Venezuela on Sunday opened a key bridge linking the international locations that had been closed for nearly seven years amid political tensions, launching an period of improved relations below Colombia’s new leftist president.

Delegations led by Colombian commerce minister Germán Umaña and the governor of Venezuela’s Tachira state, Freddy Bernal, met in the course of the “Tienditas” bridge linking Tachira and Colombia’s Norte de Santander state for the opening ceremony.

“From at present, all of the border crossings are open for transport,” stated Bernal, including that the political will existed to proceed bettering relations between the neighbors.

Building of the bridge resulted in 2016, however it was by no means inaugurated due to the political disaster between the South American international locations. The bridge, which value greater than $32 million to construct, was designed to ease congestion on the 2 different binational bridges within the space and facilitate commerce.

In 2019, Venezuela’s socialist President Nicolás Maduro ordered greater than a dozen cargo containers positioned on the bridge to symbolically block it to protest makes an attempt by the opposition to carry humanitarian assist into Venezuela from Colombia.

Diplomatic and industrial relations between Colombia and Venezuela had been reestablished in September following the inauguration of Gustavo Petro – a former guerrilla – as Colombia’s president.

Petro’s predecessor, Iván Duque (2018-2022), had referred to as Maduro a “dictator” and made Colombia considered one of 50 international locations that acknowledged opposition chief Juan Guaidó as Venezuela’s interim president, charging that Maduro’s re-election had been fraudulent.

”Tienditas” was the final remaining crossing linking the international locations to be reopened alongside their 2,200-kilometer (1,367-mile) border following the restoration of relations.

“In political phrases, ‘Tienditas’ is the image of the restoration of dialogue between the 2 international locations,” stated Ronal Rodríguez, a researcher on the Venezuela Observatory in Colombia’s Universidad del Rosario.

Pedro Benítez, a political analyst and professor on the Central College of Venezuela, instructed The Related Press the important thing image of the restoration of relations was the primary face-to-face assembly between Petro and Maduro in November.

Benitez stated the reestablishment of commerce relations between the neighbors up to now has been “very bumpy” as a result of incoming Colombian merchandise have been very costly because of “non-institutional obstacles attributed to Venezuelan officers.”

The resumption of business ties started with the enabling of visitors throughout the Simón Bolívar and Francisco de Paula Santander bridges in September. From then till November, 385 vans handed over the bridges, most from Colombia into Venezuela carrying merchandise resembling medical provides, fiber optics, textiles, bathroom paper and cardboard. Coiled metal, motors and pipes had been transported from Venezuela into Colombia.

Between January and October 2022, whole commerce between the 2 international locations reached $512 million, a rise from $394 million in all of 2021, however nonetheless a protracted methods from the $7 billion in bilateral commerce seen in 2008.

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