Venezuela’s Politicized Border/Carlos Pérez Rojas is the founder of Directus International, a nonprofit organization that documents rights abuses in the Americas.
The New York Times |14/09/15
At the immigration point in San Antonio del Táchira, some 60 people wait to cross the Simon Bolivar bridge to Colombia. One elderly woman, who has dual citizenship, pleads with a National Guard officer to let her through, but is refused.
Pedro, a Venezuelan who until last month drove a taxi in Colombia, has been particularly affected by the shutdown. Unable to cross the border, he now sells sodas and water near the bridge. “They ruined me!” he says. “Before this I was able to make a decent living. Now I can barely make ends meet.”
The 1,400-mile Venezuelan-Colombian border, crossed by thousands daily, was until recently one of the most dynamic in Latin America. But passage over the Simon Bolivar bridge, a major transit point, has been frozen since Aug. 19; on Aug. 21, President Nicolás Maduro declared a state of emergency along parts of the border and closed the San Antonio crossing indefinitely. Police were authorized to conduct warrantless searches, public gatherings were restricted, and houses in the town’s sprawling slums were razed. According to the United Nations, over 1,300 Colombians have since been deported or repatriated from Venezuela; at least another 15,000 have left voluntarily.