February 8, 2019
BOGOTA (Reuters) – Colombia’s migration office on Friday said it canceled over 300 daily entrance passes for Venezuelan politicians and their families who support President Nicolas Maduro.
Colombia has borne the brunt of the exodus of Venezuelans fleeing malnutrition and political turmoil in their once-prosperous nation, with about 800,000 flooding over the border and settling in Colombia.
“It doesn’t make sense that while (they) migrate by hunger and necessity, supporters of the dictatorship enjoy these benefits and enter our country, using this card, to shop, among other things,” Christian Kruger, the head of the migration agency, said in a statement.
Trucks carrying humanitarian aid for Venezuela arrived in the Colombian border city of Cucuta on Thursday even as Maduro refused them entry, blocking the Tienditas bridge amid an escalating political crisis.
The arrival of the aid convoy, which includes supplies provided by the United States, has increased the pressure on Maduro after Washington as well as nations from across Latin America and Europe recognized opposition leader Juan Guaido as the rightful interim ruler of Venezuela.
Maduro has rejected the aid convoy as a “political show” and vowed to remain in office.
Kruger said that among those barred from using their entry cards are former Tachira Governor Vielma Mora, Zulia Governor Erika Farias and Caracas Mayor Sandra Oblitas.
Estimates of how many Venezuelans have left their home country during the tenures of former President Hugo Chavez and current leader Maduro vary widely, with some opponents and academics putting the figure at 4 million.
(Reporting by Helen Murphy; Editing by Daniel Flynn and Chizu Nomiyama)