Venezuela, Colombia border areas hopeful as reopening looms

Containers block the Tienditas International Bridge, seen from Cucuta, Colombia, below, which connects with Tienditas, Venezuela, top, as the border has been partially closed for years by the Venezuelan government, Friday, Aug. 5, 2022. The border will gradually reopen after the two nations restore diplomatic ties when Colombia’s new president is sworn-in on Aug. 7, according to announcement in late July by Colombia’s incoming Foreign Minister Alvaro Leyva and Venezuelan Foreign Minister Carlos Faria. (AP Photo/Matias Delacroix) (Matias Delacroix, Copyright 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved)

SAN JUAN DE COLON, Venezuela – Official cross-border trade between Venezuela and Colombia has been nearly shut off since 2015, when Venezuela’s socialist president closed crossings after years of deteriorating relations with Colombia’s conservative administrations.

Now, leftist Gustavo Petro is being inaugurated as Colombia’s president Sunday promising to normalize relations with Venezuela, and optimism is rising along the border that the crossings will begin reopening.

Still, business owners and residents know meaningful vehicular activity will not resume overnight.

Venezuela’s economic woes have only worsened since border commerce was shut down.

Roads and bridges on the Venezuelan side are in disrepair. Venezuelan truckers lack needed permits. And their counterparts in Colombia want safety guarantees.