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Cash crisis leads to chaos in border towns between Colombia and Venezuela

Reporter: Michelle Begue 丨 CCTV.com

12-28-2016 14:35 BJT

The border between Colombia and Venezuela is open once again after being closed for 72 hours. Venezuelans have flocked to Colombian border towns to purchase goods. But how are Colombian businesses handling volatile border policies? 

In the Colombian border city called Cucuta, Venezuelans arrive to purchase goods as the economic crisis deepens at home.

But first, they have to exchange their bolivar notes. Colombians are no longer accepting Bolivars after Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro pulled the 100 bolivar note out of circulation.

Maduro alleges the move will stop gangs in the border that are hoarding the currency. This Colombian bank teller resents the accusation.

"We are doing them a favor, we buy and exchange their notes, so they can buy things to take home since they don't have it," said exchange teller Heidy Contreras.

For John Garcia, using his bolivars to get to Colombia was impossible. He exchanged two tubes of toothpaste for a two- day bus ticket.

John Garcia, Venezuelan citizen said "My family is in Colombia, I came to visit and see if I find work here in Colombia because things are hard over there."

But Colombian businesses say the Venezuelan economy has also been hard on them. President Maduro has extended the use of the 100 bolivar note until January 2nd so that Venezuelans and Colombians have enough time to exchange their currency. 

But car parts salesman Jacinto Pena says he doesn't have anywhere to exchange $6,000 U.S. dollars worth of 100 bolivar notes he has legally received over the last two months.

"We hope that the government will take in consideration the border and assign a bank so that each registered business can turn in those bolivars," said Colombian merchant Jacinto Pena.

Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos says he has spoken to his Venezuelan counterpart and they will be studying potential solutions for Colombian businesses. But Santos also sent a stern message that Colombians were not hoarding bolivars and that the problem was generated in Venezuela.

No matter the origin of the problem, it is in both Colombia and Venezuela's best interest to resolve these issues. Goods continue to flow between these two nations. According to Colombia's National Department of Statistics, Colombia exported U.S.$4.7 million worth of goods during a period of more than thirty days.

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