CARACAS (Reuters) – Venezuela is reopening its borders with Brazil and the Caribbean island of Aruba, Venezuela’s Economy Vice President Tareck El Aissami said on Friday, though Aruba’s government said it did not consider a re-opening “opportune.”
The government of President Nicolas Maduro shut those borders in February amid an opposition campaign to bring humanitarian aid into the country, which is suffering from a hyperinflationary economic collapse amid a power struggle between Maduro and opposition leader Juan Guaido.
“We want to convert it into a peaceful border region,” El Aissami said in a state television address. “We have received assurances that our sovereignty will be respected and that there will not be interference in matters that should be dealt with by Venezuelans.”
El Aissami did not specifically reference the maritime and air borders with the other nearby Dutch Caribbean islands Curacao or Bonaire, or the land border with neighbouring Colombia, which were also closed in February.
Aruba’s government, in a statement, said it had not received an official notification from Venezuela’s government about a re-opening and it was seeking confirmation in order to evaluate the steps to take.
“An opening of the border between Venezuela and Aruba at this time is not opportune,” the statement said.
Many Latin American and European countries, including Brazil, Colombia and the Netherlands, recognised Guaido as Venezuela’s rightful leader after he invoked the country’s constitution to assume an interim presidency in January, arguing Maduro’s 2018 re-election was illegitimate.
Maduro calls Guaido a puppet of the United States seeking to oust him in a coup. He broke off diplomatic relations with Colombia after the February aid effort, accusing it of allowing its territory to be used as a staging ground to attack Venezuela.
Without mentioning Colombia, El Aissami said other borders would remain closed “until the positions of hostility and aggression are ceased.”
(Reporting by Luc Cohen; Additional reporting by Sailu Urribarri; Writing by Brian Ellsworth; Editing by James Dalgleish and Alistair Bell)