Venezuela has reopened its border with Colombia in the state of Tachira to enable students to start their classes in the neighboring Andean nation, regional Venezuelan Gov. Jose Vielma Mora announced.
To provide transportation for the youths to Colombia, the Tachira governor said on state channel VTV that "we have activated buses that are now carrying students, because starting today they begin preschool, high school and university classes" in the country next door.
Priority is being given to education because "we remember that many Venezuelans study in Colombia and many young Colombians study in Venezuela," he said.
Venezuelan President Nicolas Madura said last Friday that the border with Colombia, more than 2,200 kilometers (1,370 miles) long, will remain closed until the law is respected there and the gangs of smugglers, paramilitaries and kidnappers are brought under control. Their activities, he said, were the reason he closed the border last August.
The Tachira governor, a political ally of Maduro, noted that the reopening is a special measure "because of the beginning of classes in Colombia," a measure that was previously applied after the border was closed almost six months ago.
Vielma Mora accused Colombian authorities, particularly those in Norte de Santander province, of not helping the students by refusing to transport them to their schools from "halfway across the international bridge" and in that way make their lives a little easier.
He also said that Colombian media "try to criminalize Venezuelan authorities who are battling drug traffickers and paramilitaries operating in the region."
The reopening of the border in Tachira comes two days after Walter Raul Silva, kingpin of the Colombian paramilitary drug gang Los Rastrojos, was slain in the area.
The Tachira governor said Saturday that Silva died that day in a clash with troops of the DGCIM military counterintelligence unit and the CICPC criminal investigations agency. EFE