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Venezuela takes steps to restrict smuggling through Brazil, Guyana borders

Venezuela takes steps to restrict smuggling through Brazil, Guyana borders

CARACAS: The government of Venezuela said that it will restrict crossings at Venezuela’s land, maritime and air borders with Brazil and Guyana between 10 p.m. and 5 a.m. In addition, delivery trucks must stay off the roads in Venezuelan border towns between 6 p.m. and 5 a.m. as part of a crackdown on contraband.

Venezuela will further restrict nighttime border crossings to try to stop the widespread smuggling of fuel and food that have contributed to shortages of basic goods in the country’s reeling economy.

In August, the socialist government of Nicolas Maduro had already ordered the night closure of the country’s border with Colombia, where heavily subsidized Venezuelan goods often end up.

Thousands of people live off a thriving contraband trade in border areas, smuggling goods that are sold at large discounts in Venezuela due to price controls. Venezuela’s gasoline, for instance, is the cheapest in the world at less than 2 U.S. cents per litre, and many other goods from cooking oil to corn flour are also highly subsidized.

Economists generally argue the large price disparities between the cost of goods in Venezuela and neighbouring countries mean the latest measures are unlikely to have a long-term impact on smuggling.

Opposition parties say the problem has ballooned in recent years due to collusion between Venezuela’s armed forces and the smugglers. Military officers pay large bribes to be posted on the border and take advantage of the trade, they allege.

The government says it is trying to weed out a few “bad apples,” and points to the arrests of more than 4,800 people accused of smuggling as proof of its will to stem the illicit trade.