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Economy & Business - July 2021

COLOMBIA-VENEZUELA: Border closure drives growth in illicit trade

The porosity of the Colombia-Venezuela border is mostly discussed by the politicians of both countries in terms of security risks. Yet for many residents of the border area, the ability to illegally cross the border has represented an economic lifeline since official entry points were closed in March 2020 to limit the spread of the coronavirus (Covid-19). The twin cities of Cúcuta, the capital of Colombia’s Norte de Santander department, and San Antonio del Táchira, in the Venezuelan state of Táchira, provide a microcosm of how the official closure of the border has led to a surge in illegal crossing points that keep many residents from starvation yet also fuel a smuggling racket that harms legitimate businesses and lines the pockets of criminal groups and corrupt government officials.

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