By Senabri Silvestre
SANTO DOMINGO, Dom. Rep. (AA) – Neighboring Venezuela and Colombia have reopened border crossings after a weeklong shutdown to stem currency smuggling.
The “progressive reopening” began Tuesday morning with dozens of crosswalks, following an arrangement between Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro and his Colombian counterpart Juan Manuel Santos via telephone.
“Both Presidents instructed their Defense Ministers to coordinate immediate actions for a normalization of the border to the level that already existed with strict surveillance and security,” Venezuelan Communication Minister Ernesto Villegas said on Twitter.
Hours later, Colombian Defense Minister Luis Carlos Villegas announced new measures in the border region of Catatumbo and in the department of La Guajira.
Maduro closed the border with Colombia on December 12 with a view to targeting the “mafias that seek to destabilize the nation's economy" by taking bolivars to South America “in a massive way”.
Maduro also announced that Venezuela’s highest-value bill, the oft-pirated 100-bolivar banknotes, would be taken out of circulation within a period of 72 hours but the measures was postponed until Jan.2, 2017, after recovering 70% of those bills.
A new 500-bolivar bill began circulating on Tuesday and new denominations of 1,000, 2,000, and 20,000 banknotes are expected in the upcoming days to supplant the 100 banknote, according to local media.