CARACAS, Venezuela, Aug. 5 (UPI) — The Colombian and Venezuelan foreign ministers on Thursday proposed the creation of special identification cards for citizens wishing to cross the border between the two countries.
The measure was agreed on by Colombian Foreign Minister María Ángela Holguín and Venezuelan Foreign Minister Delcy Rodríguez in Caracas, but it requires the approval of Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos and Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro.
The special border identity card will have the “basic information of the activities taking place at the border, and that it will be subject to strict controls,” Venezuela’s foreign ministry said in a statement.
The Colombian and Venezuelan border was completely closed by Maduro late last year after three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian were injured in an attack by suspected smugglers in Venezuela’s Táchira state.
Colombia and Venezuela’s 1,400-mile border is porous and highly unregulated. It’s often used by smugglers to purchase heavily subsidized goods in Venezuela to resell in Colombia for a profit. Food scarcity in Venezuela has led basic goods such as flour, sugar and rice to be missing from shelves amid an economic crisis.
Tens of thousands of Venezuelans have fled to Colombia to purchase goods, but Colombia said it would no longer temporarily open the border to allow Venezuelans to buy basic provisions until the border, closed by Maduro, is reopened permanently.
“We have been seeing the causes from the source of the problems that have arisen at the border and we have agreed to make a detailed and thorough assessment of regulatory treatments, protocols and memoranda,” Rodríguez said Thursday.
The foreign ministers said that Santos and Maduro would meet soon to discuss the border, particularly security concerns.