500 Venezuelan women storm bridge, cross into Colombia to shop for goods

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Five hundred women in Venezuela stormed a bridge Tuesday, crossing the border into Colombia in a desperate attempt to find food and other necessities.

The 1,400-mile border has been officially closed since August 2015, and the Francisco de Paula Santander International Bridge – Ureña, Venezuela, to Cúcuta, Colombia – was being manned by Venezuela's National Guard.

The women, dressed in white t-shirts, cheered as they broke through barriers and ran full-steam into Cúcuta.

“The women of Ureña decided to come to the international bridge to cross the border because we don’t have food in our homes. Our children are going hungry. There is a lot of need,” one woman told the Cúcuta daily, La Opinion.

The women shopped for goods such as toilet paper, flour and cooking oil – all things they say are not available in Venezuela.

According to The Guardian, due to the exchange rate between the Venezuelan bolívar and the Colombian peso, the women may have paid up to 10 times more than they would have had the goods been available in Venezuela.

The price of oil, a commodity the socialist regime in Venezuela depends on to feed its people, has plummeted in the last two years, leaving the government without income and struggling to import enough goods. The opposition blames the government mismanagement for the shortages, while the government of Nicolás Maduro contends that shortages are the result of an economic war being waged against it.

One of the women told Colombian media: "We're desperate. We have nothing: no cooking oil, no sugar, no rice."

Officials in Colombia say a similar incident occurred in Puerto Santander, Colombia, in June, when 400 Venezuelans crossed into Colombia to buy goods.

President Maduro declared a state of emergency in the border region between the countries in 2015, and had 1,300 undocumented Colombians living in Venezuela deported.

After buying the goods, the women returned to Venezuela, arms heavy with full bags, some singing their national anthem, and others, according to the BBC, shouting, "Yes, we can!" and thanking the Colombian security forces for letting them through.

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