Venezuelan students cross border to attend classes in Colombia
Hundreds of Venezuelan schoolchildren came Monday to this Colombian border city in order to resume their classes, after Venezuelan authorities created a border pass for students and people needing medical care.
The corridor, opened at 5:00 am, allowed the entry into Colombia of children and teens, mostly wearing school uniforms and accompanied by their parents, along with patients, some of them in wheelchairs.
The Venezuelan border has been closed since Feb. 23, when the Nicolas Maduro government broke off relations with Colombia and shut down the border crossings following the failed attempt by self-proclaimed acting Venezuelan president Juan Guaido to bring humanitarian aid into his country.
Among those who came early Monday morning over the Francisco de Paula Santander International Bridge, which connects Ureña, Venezuela, with Cucuta, was Jhoana Pabon, who brought her 11-year-old son and her daughter of 15 so they could resume their classes.
The opening of this border corridor coincides with the suspension of classes and work activities in Venezuela due to the power outage that occurred last Thursday in that country and which has not yet been totally repaired.
Another woman, Yalitza Suarez, crossed the bridge without any problems to attend a medical appointment for her eight-month pregnancy, and hopes permission to enter Colombia will continue, since she can’t imagine giving birth in Venezuela in its current situation.
“May they keep the bridge open indefinitely,” she told EFE, “so I can have my baby here because it’s impossible in Venezuela, it’s too much of a risk.”
The number of people coming over the bridge was much lower than the 35,000 that Colombian authorities said were crossing daily from Venezuela to Cucuta.
In the early hours Monday, Venezuelan authorities also opened the restricted crossing over Simon Bolivar International Bridge, which links Cucuta with San Antonio del Tachira.
Two members of Venezuela’s opposition-controlled National Assembly, Jose Manuel Olivares and Gaby Arellano, went to Francisco de Paula Santander Bridge to accompany their fellow countrymen and encourage them to keep putting pressure on the Maduro government.
They also congratulated mothers in Tachira state for defending their children’s’ right to education.
“This is a victory for the mothers of Tachira, it is a demonstration, as our president Juan Guaido said, that we must go into our avenue, into our street, to demand our rights,” Olivares said in a statement.
Since the border was closed, thousands of Venezuelans have found ways to cross the Tachira River every day in order to stock up in Cucuta with products they can’t find in their own country.