Venezuela closes border with Colombia for 72 hours

Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro announced on 12 December 2016 the border with Colombia will be closed for 72 hours. According to Maduro, the measure is intended to prevent "cash mafias" from transporting 100-bolívar bills from Colombia to Venezuela (Tal Cual). Maduro stated government officials already seized 64 million bolívares along the border, and said Venezuelan Defense Minister Vladimir Padrino López and Colombian Defense Minister Luis Carlos Villegas were coordinating their respective armies to combat cash mafias on both sides of the border (Panorama). The President added the Right in Venezuela is behind the cash mafias, and Interior Minister Néstor Reverol claimed an NGO hired by the U.S. Treasury Department was responsible for the outflow of 300 billion bolívares from Venezuela (Panorama). 

Maduro's announcement of the temporary border closure is adding to the daily chaos in the country, as Venezuelans are facing long lines at banks to exchange or deposit their 100-bolívar bills in compliance with a presidential decree on 11 December. The President ordered Venezuelans to turn in six billion notes, which represent 47.55 percent of the nation's money supply, within a 72-hour period beginning on 13 December (Efecto Cocuyo). Maduro last decreed a closure of the border on 28 August 2015, citing paramilitary activity in the region, and the border was reopened partially on 8 July 2016, allowing thousands of Venezuelans to cross into Colombia to seek food and medicine, which are scarce in Venezuela (Globovisión). Maduro is again militarizing the border area and contributing to tensions with Colombia with his call for involvement from the Venezuelan and Colombian armies. Furthermore, by accusing alleged cash mafias of manipulating the bolívar, Maduro is attempting to foist the blame for rampant inflation and fiscal mismanagement onto unknown criminals, NGOs, the Venezuelan opposition, and the U.S. government, exposing his government's desperation and lack of control over the economy.