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News Link • Venezuela

123,000 Venezuelans Cross Border Shopping for Scarce Food

• abcnews.go.com

It was the second weekend in a row that Venezuela's socialist government opened the long-closed border with Colombia, and by 6 a.m. Sunday, a line of would-be shoppers snaked through the entire town of San Antonio del Tachira. Some had traveled in chartered buses from cities 10 hours away.

Venezuela's government closed all crossings a year ago to crack down on smuggling along the 1,378-mile (2,219 kilometer) border. It complained that speculators were causing shortages by buying up subsidized food and gasoline in Venezuela and taking them to Colombia, where they could be sold for far higher prices.

But shortages have continued to mount in Venezuela amid triple-digit inflation, currency controls that have restricted imports and investment and the world oil price slump that caused a collapse in the oil revenues that fund government spending.

Although the border was heavily patrolled by Venezuelan troops, the crowds were mostly orderly amid an atmosphere of tense excitement. A few activists handed out anti-government pamphlets, looking to galvanize the frustration that has characterized food riots and long lines outside supermarkets in recent weeks.

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