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In brief: Venezuela closes border with Colombia at night

Wed., Aug. 13, 2014

CARACAS, Venezuela – Venezuelan’s decision to close its border with Colombia at night to fight contraband is drawing complaints from both sides of the frontier.

On Monday night, Venezuela began shutting down the 1,500-mile border from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. to crack down on the smuggling of heavily subsidized gasoline and food. Venezuela has the world’s cheapest gas and the government maintains price controls on many food items, providing an incentive for smugglers to sell them abroad.

The 30-day trial closure sparked a grumbling from locals, thousands of whom cross the border for work.

In the Venezuelan border town of Urena, Chamber of Commerce president Isidoro Teres said 24-hour factories that make glass, plastic and other products may no longer be able to operate at night.

Teres said the new policy violates the right of free movement.

In Colombia’s Norte de Santander state, officials also oppose the closure.

“They chose the easy way,” Gov. Edgar Dmaz Contreras said. “We need to find a remedy that doesn’t hinder the daily work of the Colombian and Venezuelan citizens who use the border.”

Mexico says tourism up

MEXICO CITY – Mexico’s central bank says the country’s international tourism grew 19.6 percent in the first six months of 2014, compared to the same period last year.

The Bank of Mexico said in a statement Tuesday that 14.2 million foreigners visited Mexico between January and June and spent $8.4 billion.

International tourism to Mexico declined after drug cartel violence increased.

Earthquake kills at least 2

QUITO, Ecuador – A magnitude-5.1 earthquake shook Ecuador’s capital and surrounding areas Tuesday, causing tall buildings to sway and sending some people rushing into the streets. The government said two people were confirmed dead and eight injured outside Quito.

The Department of Risk Management said the casualties were in the Catequilla area 7 miles north of the capital near the country’s monument marking the Equator. It did not say how the deaths and injuries occurred.

The U.S. Geological Survey said the quake was centered 14 miles northeast of Quito at a depth of 4 miles.