PUERTO ORDAZ (Reuters) – Venezuela re-opened its land border with Brazil on Thursday, nearly two years after the government of President Nicolas Maduro shuttered crossings over COVID-19 concerns, local Venezuelan authorities said on Friday.
Maduro closed crossings in March 2020 amid a nationwide quarantine, allowing only cargo transport.
The closure stopped dozens of students from attending classes in Pacaraima, on the Brazilian side, and forced Venezuelans seeking scarce food and gasoline to use illegal crossings, local human rights activists say.
“President Nicolas Maduro has instructed that this crossing be normalized. We have a brotherhood of many years with Brazil,” said Angel Marcano, the governor of Venezuela’s southern Bolivar state, in a statement published on state television.
Brazilian tourists were already booking tours to Venezuela’s Canaima National Park, the head of Bolivar’s tourism chamber Odimar Lopez told Reuters.
(This story corrects headline and lead paragraph to clarify that border was shut from Venezuelan side)
(Reporting by Maria Ramirez in Puerto Ordaz; Writing by Vivian Sequera and Julia Symmes Cobb; Editing by Leslie Adler)