Venezuela and Colombia officials opened the Atanasio Girardot international bridge on Sunday, allowing vehicles carrying both passengers and cargo to cross the border between both countries.
Completed in 2016 but never used, the bridge also known as Tienditas was inaugurated with a ceremony led by authorities from both countries, including Colombia’s commerce minister German Umana and transportation minister Guillermo Reyes, as well as governor of the Venezuelan border state of Tachira, Freddy Bernal.
The opening marks the most recent step toward a normalization of relations between the two countries after Colombian president Gustavo Petro took office in August.
Ties between the neighboring nations had soured after former president Ivan Duque joined the US and dozens of other countries in supporting opposition leader Juan Guaidó as Venezuela’s legitimate leader in 2019, as part of a bid to isolate President Nicolas Maduro. Venezuela’s opposition put an end to Guaidó’s interim government Friday.
All border crossings between Colombia and Venezuela at the Norte de Santander area have now been fully reactivated, Reyes said on Twitter.
The Tienditas bridge is expected to boost trade between the two countries. Colombian exports to Venezuela dropped to about $330 million in 2021 from $6 billion in 2008. Colombian authorities expect total trade to reach $4 billion to $5 billion by the end of Petro’s presidency.
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