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Venezuelans Pour Into Neighboring Colombia for Basic Supplies

Venezuelans crossed into Colombia over the weekend to hunt for food and medicine that are in short supply at home.

Thousands of Venezuelans streamed into neighboring Colombia on Sunday to take advantage of a temporary opening of the border to buy food and medicine unavailable at home in their country's collapsing economy.

Almost 35,000 people crossed from Venezuela into Colombia to buy food, care supplies, and medicine, during a temporarily opening of the border crossing.

Above: Venezuelan citizens cross into Colombia at the Simon Bolivar international bridge in San Antonio del Tachira, Venezuela, on July 17.

Gabriel Barrero / EPA

Venezuelans wait in line to cross into Colombia through the Simon Bolivar bridge in San Antonio del Tachira, Venezuela on July 17.

Socialist President Nicolas Maduro shut the border last year in an effort to crack down on smuggling of subsidized products. Venezuela's product shortages have since worsened, creating further incentives to buy goods in Colombia and bring them back.

It's the second weekend in a row that Venezuela's government has opened the long-closed border connecting Venezuela to Colombia.

Ariana Cubillos / AP

A woman carrying a bundle on her head waits in line to cross the border into Colombia.

Venezuelans routinely spend hours in lines at home seeking items ranging from corn flour to cancer medication to auto parts.

 

 

Ariana Cubillos / AP

A man lifts up a baby as people line up to cross over the Simon Bolivar international bridge to Colombia.

A plunge in global oil prices have left the OPEC nation's government unable to maintain lavish subsidies created during the rule of late President Hugo Chavez, while currency controls have left businesses struggling to obtain raw materials and machine parts.

Carlos Eduardo Ramirez / Reuters

Venezuelans cross the Simon Bolivar bridge.

Crowds of people flooded the bridge that links San Antonio to the Colombian city of Cucuta to cross the border on foot, at times singing the national anthem or chanting "This government is going to fall!" 

GEORGE CASTELLANOS / AFP - Getty Images

Venezuelans shop for groceries at a supermarket in Cucuta, Colombia on July 17.

Colombia's government said 44,000 people crossed on Saturday to buy food, medicine and cleaning products.

Shoppers complain of violence in lines and looting is on the rise. Bus terminals were packed and hotels filled to capacity in the border town of San Antonio, with many traveling hundreds of miles to shop.

SCHNEYDER MENDOZA / AFP - Getty Images

A man pushes a trolley with toilet paper and other goods as he walks towards the Colombian-Venezuelan border after shopping in Cucuta, Colombia.

 

Carlos Eduardo Ramirez / Reuters

A man walks by Colombian policemen as he crosses into Colombia through the Simon Bolivar bridge linking San Antonio del Tachira, Venezuela, with Cucuta, Colombia.

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro says socialist policies helped reduce poverty in Venezuela during Chavez's 14-year rule and insists his government is now the victim of an "economic war" led by political adversaries with the help of the United States.

Venezuelan officials acknowledge some difficulties, but accuse media of exaggerating problems to destabilize the government.

Ariana Cubillos / AP