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  • Colombia's Mobile Police Riot Squad at the Simón Bolivar International Bridge, Colombia, March 14, 2020.

    Colombia's Mobile Police Riot Squad at the Simón Bolivar International Bridge, Colombia, March 14, 2020. | Photo: EFE

Published 14 March 2020
Opinion

President Ivan Duque weakens the epidemiological cooperation required to halt the Covid-19 pandemic. He did not close the Colombian border with Ecuador, though.

Without having sent any previous signal, Colombia’s President Ivan Duque Friday ordered the closure of his country's border with Venezuela, a decision that affected thousands who are stuck in cross-border crossings between these South American countries.

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"Starting at five in the morning tomorrow, the border crossings with Venezuela will be closed as a protection measure," Duque said on Friday night.

The closure occurred at international bridges such as Simon Bolivar, General Santander, and La Union, where members of the Colombian Army and the Mobile Riot Squad (Esmad) were deployed to contain those who attempt to pass.

Although the border closure was justified to "protect" Colombia, this country already has 22 confirmed Covid-19 cases, while Venezuela has only reported two cases.

Colombia and Venezuela share a 2,219-kilometer border, around which Colombian paramilitaries control drug trafficking and production.

"Venezuela described as grotesque irresponsibility the decision made by Colombia's President Ivan Duque to close the common border to face the Covid-19 pandemic."

Venezuela's Vice President Delcy Rodriguez described the closure as an "act of grotesque irresponsibility" and added that Duque is handing over the border to paramilitary groups "to nullify and circumvent epidemiological and sanitary controls that this crisis requires."

"It is a wild folly that violates international cooperation ordered by the World Health Organization as an appropriate mechanism to overcome this serious pandemic," she added

On the Colombian side of the Colombian-Venezuelan border, the closure of official transit sites, as well as the strong presence of the Colombian police and military, has not impeded the movement of people along irregular paths, as reported by news agency EFE.

Paradoxically, up to the moment, President Duque has not closed Colombia's border with Ecuador, a country where 28 Covid-cases are confirmed.

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