The Venezuelan government opened its common border with Colombia on Sunday (10 July) to allow thousands of countrymen to buy food and medicines. According to officials, around 35,000 people entered Colombia and returned home with ample of food supplies.

The common border was closed on the orders of President Nicolas Maduro in August 2015, who had said that Colombian paramilitaries and gangs had infiltrated the area and it was important to step up security. On Sunday, the frontier was opened for 12 hours and desperate Venezuelans crossed the pedestrian bridge that connects Tachira in Venezuela to Cucuta in the neighbouring country.

A woman, who crossed into Colombia along with her family, said that it was "unfair" to close the border. "We are from San Antonio, and the reality is that we do not have any food to give to our children," she was quoted as saying.

The Venezuelan economy has been severely hit by low oil prices, which led President Maduro to declare a state of emergency in May. The Latin American country has the world's highest inflation rate at 180%.

Several critics have blamed Maduro for the situation. However, the president has alleged that "right-wing [industry] bosses were responsible for destroying Venezuela economically".

Meanwhile in Colombia, at least 300 security personnel were deployed in Cucuta to keep the situation under control. In June, reports said that around 500 women from Venezuela had illegally crossed the border and went into shops and supermarkets and took away medicines, cooking oil and corn flour.

Venezuelans carrying food
Venezuelan citizens are seen carrying bags and packages as they cross the Colombian-Venezuelan border over the Simon Bolivar international bridge, after shopping and taking advantage of the temporary border opening in San Antonio del Tachira, Venezuela Reuters