CARACAS, Venezuela (AP) — Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro on Monday announced his intention to fully open the border crossings with Colombia starting Jan. 1, a measure repeatedly postponed following the restoration of diplomatic and commercial ties between the South American neighbors.
Relations between the countries were broken off in 2019, but Maduro has said the environment is conducive to improved ties with the election of Gustavo Petro as Colombia’s first leftist president. The neighbors resumed diplomatic relations in September.
“I am going to announce that we will be completely opening the border, for all of western Venezuela with Colombia, for the passage of vehicles, motorcycles, trucks” as of Jan. 1. Maduro said on state television.
“We are preparing everything to comply with what we announced, to fulfill what was promised to President Gustavo Petro,” he said.
Petro has recognized Maduro as the legitimate president of Venezuela. His predecessor, Iván Duque, along with dozens of other countries, had said Maduro was returned to power in 2018 in fraudulent elections.
Petro also promoted the reopening of the countries’ shared border on Sept. 26. Symbolically, the crossing of trucks from both sides of the border was allowed while restrictions remained on private vehicles and buses.
In the first week of November, the first commercial flight by a Colombian airline in years arrived in Venezuela. For now, only the small Colombian state airline Satena and the Venezuelan Turpial and Laser have permission from the Venezuelan authorities to operate the route.
Maduro did not mention if that would change in the near future.