CARACAS (Reuters) - Venezuela’s President Nicolas Maduro late Wednesday ordered two border crossings to Colombia closed for 72 hours after a shoot-out left three soldiers injured. The members of the military were attacked during an anti-smuggling operation in the Venezuelan border town of San Antonio in the state of Tachira, according to the government.
“I’ve given instructions to close the border with Colombia at San Antonio of Tachira and in Urena immediately for 72 hours,” Maduro said on state TV near midnight on Wednesday.
Tachira state Governor Jose Vielma Mora said military personnel would be deployed to the smuggling-rife border area soon. As the Venezuelan currency sinks and inflation rages, many near the border are making money smuggling price-fixed goods, including gasoline, flour and shampoo over to nearby Colombia for a handsome profit.
Organized smuggling groups also operate in the area, buying goods in Venezuela to resell them in Colombia, exacerbating shortages in crisis-hit Venezuela.
Reporting by Corina Pons; Writing by Alexandra Ulmer; Editing by Jeffrey Benkoe