Thousands of Venezuelans rushed to neighbouring Colombia on Saturday, 16 July, to buy food and medicine for the second time this month. On 10 July, at least 35,000 Venezuelans crossed into Colombia for the first time since it was shut by President Nicolas Maduro almost a year ago to prevent cross-border crime. The border opening led to dramatic scenes with elderly women and mothers rushing to Colombian supermarkets.
According to Colombia's foreign ministry, almost the same number of people entered the country on 16 July as they did last week. The ministry said that the process took place "in an orderly manner and under conditions of security" and added that the border was open for about eight hours and will again open on 17 July.
The opening of the border on Saturday left Colombians surprised, as they were expecting people from Venezuela to cross over into Cucuta city only on Sunday. However, authorities said that they wanted to reduce the number of people queuing up, hence the border was opened up a day earlier, BBC reported.
Meanwhile, Colombia's Defense Minister, Luis Carlos Villegas, said that his country has made a great effort to have sufficient supplies ready for Venezuelans who are expected to cross the border over the weekend.
Governor Jose Vielma of the Venezuelan border state of Tachira said that President Maduro was in complete support of his countrymen crossing into Colombia. He added that people from Venezuela should not be disturbed while crossing into the neighbouring country to buy essential food supplies.
The Venezuelan economy has been badly hit due to the steep decline in oil prices. While Maduro's critics hold him responsible for the economic instability, the leader has blamed the opposition and the business community for the shortage in essential supplies.