Venezuela’s Maduro says border with Colombia to reopen

Venezuela’s President Nicolas Maduro announced the reopening of the frontier on Twitter. (File/AFP)
Updated 08 June 2019
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Venezuela’s Maduro says border with Colombia to reopen

  • The Venezuelan government in May reopened its land border with Brazil and the sea route with Aruba
  • Relations between Venezuela and Colombia have been broken since Feb. 23

CARACAS: Venezuela’s President Nicolas Maduro on Friday ordered the reopening of the country’s border with Colombia in western Tachira state, near where international aid refused by Caracas has amassed.
The economically-devastated South American nation is suffering from shortages of food, medicine and other essentials amid a power struggle between Maduro and opposition leader Juan Guaido, who has been recognized as interim president by more than 50 countries including the United States.
Announcing the reopening of the frontier on Twitter, Maduro said: “We are a people of peace that strongly defends our independence and self-determination.”
The leader, however, did not say whether crucial border bridges, closed since August 2015 after two Venezuelan soldiers were wounded by suspected smugglers, would be unblocked.
Maduro in February ordered the total closure of land frontiers with Brazil and Colombia, as well as sea and air links with the Netherlands Antilles in the Caribbean.
Guaido wanted to bring food and medicine into the country, but the Maduro-backed army blocked the border bridges and prevented the entry of cargo.
Maduro says Venezuela is the victim of an “economic war” waged by the United States and believes the aid was a smoke screen to prepare a “foreign invasion.”
The Venezuelan government in May reopened its land border with Brazil and the sea route with Aruba, but not with other islands such as Bonaire and Curacao.
Relations between Venezuela and Colombia, who share a land border stretching 2,220 kilometers (1,380 miles), have been broken since February 23 after Colombian President Ivan Duque announced his support for Guaido.
Many Venezuelans cross the frontier illegally every day to get supplies because of the serious shortage of basic necessities.


16 dead in crush at Madagascar independence day rally

Updated 46 min 57 sec ago
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16 dead in crush at Madagascar independence day rally

  • The accident occurred outside Mahamasina Stadium, where several thousand people had gathered for a concert following the traditional military parade held to mark National Day

ANTANANARIVO: At least 16 people were crushed to death and dozens injured in Madagascar on Wednesday at a stadium hosting national independence day celebrations in the capital Antananarivo.
The bodies of sixteen victims, including three children, were stored at the mortuary of HJRA hospital in the city, AFP journalists said.
Hospital director Oliva Alison Rakoto had earlier reported 15 dead and 80 wounded.
According to witnesses at the hospital, the accident occurred in the afternoon outside the Mahamasina stadium, where several thousand people had gathered for a concert following the traditional military parade held to mark the national holiday.
At the end of a military parade, security forces opened the gates to allow spectators to leave the enclosure, causing the crowd to mass outside the stadium, witnesses said.
The police then immediately closed the gates and blocked the crowd, witnesses said, causing a deadly pile up.
“When the organizers opened the gate, we were in the front row, in the queue,” said Jean Claude Etienne Rakotoarimanana, 29, who suffered bruises from the crush.
“Suddenly people ran to get in front of us. They shoved us, some even punched us and pulled us,” he added, saying he then fainted.
In September 2018, a deadly crush killed one person and injured 30 people in similar circumstances at the entrance of the same stadium during a football match between Madagascar and Senegal.