CARACAS Aug 9 Venezuela will close its border
with neighboring Colombia at night to prevent smuggling of
heavily subsidized fuel and food, a top military officer said on
The government will shut traffic across the border between
10 p.m. and 5 a.m. starting Monday, and limit movement of cargo
vehicles in border municipalities to prevent lucrative
"With these measures we are increasing the mechanisms to
minimize contraband," Gen. Vladimir Padrino said on state
Venezuela's heavy subsidies on consumer goods allow
smugglers to buy up products ranging from gasoline and diesel to
cooking oil and corn flour, then drive the goods across the
border to Colombia, where they can be resold for a quick profit.
Padrino said the government as of July had impounded 21,000
tonnes of food that smugglers were attempting to take across the
border, more than the total amount impounded in 2013. The
government also has impounded 40 million liters (10.6 million
gallons) of gasoline over the same period this year.
Filling the tank of a small vehicle costs about 38 cents in
Venezuela, one quarter the price of a medium-sized bottle of
Critics say the gaping price disparities between the cost of
goods in Venezuela and that of neighboring countries means such
measures are unlikely to have a long-term impact on the problem.
(Reporting by Brian Ellsworth; Editing by David Gregorio)