A $15 grocery run has cost two single mothers from Colombia 48 days in jail — and a possible 14-year prison sentence, as a result of a crackdown on smuggling in Venezuela that’s ratcheting up tensions and highlighting growing economic distortions between the neighbors.
Jenifer Rojas and Belsy Alvarez were arrested in early September as they walked out of a supermarket in the western city of San Cristóbal with bags of pasta, mayonnaise and other staples. The goods are heavily subsidized in Venezuela and sale is restricted to Venezuela residents.
They face charges of smuggling and violating the Venezuelan government’s new law of fair prices, whose penalties include 10 to 14 years in jail. They are expected to appear in court Friday to learn if they must remain in jail.