Colombia: 'Pimpineros' — Venezuelan smugglers sell oil at border to survive

The trade in illegally imported oil is booming in Cucuta, on the Colombian side of the border with Venezuela, Friday. It is thought that there are around 2,100 'pimpineros' — the local name given to these petrol smugglers — in the Norte de Santander department alone. The pimpineros bring petrol from Venezuela, where it is heavily subsidised by the government, and sell it at around $4,000... Еще Colombian Peso ($1.39; €1.13) per gallon. The equivalent price in a local petrol station is almost four times as much — $11,850 Colombian Peso ($4.13; €3.35). In response, authorities have begun a crackdown on cross-border smuggling seizing illegally smuggled petrol. Part of the problem has been a spike in the number of people entering the country from Venezuela, where they are fleeing instability, inflation, and a worsening political crisis. However, Ober Sanchez, one of many smugglers in Cucuta staunchly defended his mode of employment. «More than 2,000 men were sent to the border, not to fight the criminals, but to fight people who work. Yes, smugglers do work,» he said. Indeed, Sanchez and his collaborators provide an income for five families. It seems that people will do what they can to get by, even if it is illegal, until the situation improves in neighbouring Venezuela.

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