CARACAS.- Venezuela has reopened its border with Brazil and restored maritime and air connections with the island of Aruba after barring entry from those countries for more than two months, Vice President Tareck El Aissami said.
«The borders with Brazil and Aruba have been re-established, but not those with the rest of the countries surrounding our territory, until they end the positions of hostility, of siege, of facilitation of paramilitary groups» he told reporters.
In February, leftist President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of Venezuela’s borders with Colombia and Brazil and cut off sea and air links with the nearby Dutch islands of Aruba, Bonaire and Curaçao.
The move was aimed at thwarting attempts by supporters of self-proclaimed acting head of state Juan Guaido to bring in US aid stockpiled in Colombia, Brazil and the ABC Islands.
Guaido, who is backed by Washington, said the aid was needed to address a pressing humanitarian crisis in oil-rich Venezuela.
But Maduro, whose government has accepted help from the International Red Cross and from allies such as a Cuba, China and Russia, denounced the aid initiative as a Trojan horse for a US-led military intervention.
El Aissami, accompanied by Foreign Minister Jorge Arreaza, said that while Maduro’s government has «received from the authorities of Aruba a commitment of respect, of solidarity, of working together,» such commitments have not been forthcoming from other countries.
The governor of the northwestern state of Falcon, Victor Clark, has been ordered to «initiate the working committees for the gradual re-establishment of all communication, trade and commercial channels with Aruba,» the vice president said.
Before the travel ban, there were 48 flights a week between Aruba and Venezuela, El Aissami said, adding that Caracas would like to see the number of flights surpass the previous level.
«We want to establish fair-trade mechanisms. We want to increase our oil and fuel investments in the Caribbean. We hope that the authorities in the other islands come to their senses and avoid being instruments for aggression against the territory of Venezuela,» he said.
Regarding Brazil, Venezuela plans to resume the normal trade in goods and services with the Brazilian border state of Roraima, the vice president said.
El Aissami also extended to Venezuela’s neighbors an invitation to «sincere dialogue.»
«We won’t meddle in the affairs of other countries, but we demand that they leave the Venezuelan people alone. We will solve our problems, as President Maduro has said,» the vice president said.