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Many Colombians Falsely Claim Deportation from Venezuela

Bogotá, September 14 (teleSUR-RHC)-- Some 20,000 Colombian citizens have crossed the border from Venezuela back into Colombia, according to United Nations figures published Sunday, many of whom falsely claim to have been deported, when in fact they are opportunists taking advantage of benefits the government began to offer those who return to the country.

The U.N. report makes it clear that some 18,000 Colombians have returned to their country of origin due to unfounded fear of being deported, while many more are going back only to falsely claim the benefits the government of Colombia is offering to those actually deported, which are only at least a thousand.

The 20,000 comes from calculations after the Venezuelan government decided to close the border crossing of Paraguachon, in the province of Zulia. However, most of the Colombian citizens are returning to the city of Cucuta.

Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos announced last month that his government would provide jobs and a subsidy to victims of Venezuela's deportations.

The president has vowed to welcome back every Colombian who wants to return, and has promised they will feel as coming back home.

The situation has become especially complicated in the city of Cucuta, where Mayor Donamaris Ramirez has ordered authorities to request a Venezuelan ID card used to buy in supermarkets at the neighboring country before granting any benefits to allege deportation victims.

Over 100 false 'deported citizens' last week tried to take over an empty lot in the neighborhood of Maria Auxiliadora, Cucuta.  The local authorities say they can only rely on people denouncing these cases, given that it is very difficult for them to determine which citizens are lying.  

Lack of food and other products in towns along the Colombian border have also driven hundreds of Colombians into the closest cities, which seem to not be able to cope with the influx.

One of the most affected communities has been the Wayuu indigenous people in the Colombian side. The native community shares a common history across both borders and it was normal for Venezuelan Wayuus to bring products into the Colombian side.

Now, some products are scarce and the price of gasoline has more than doubled in the bordering cities of Maicao and Riohacha.

The small town of Paraguachon in the Colombian province of La Guajira, where the border crossing was closed, reported a widespread shortage of food and basic products. 
Edited by Ivan Martínez
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