Venezuela expels Europe lawmakers as aid showdown intensifies

Venezuela expels Europe lawmakers as aid showdown intensifies

Kerry Wise
February 19, 2019

"The consequences will be severe and they will be swift", Rubio said, also warning Maduro not to harm USA personnel working in the country, adding that the United States would also respond if aid workers were targeted.

President Nicolas Maduro has vowed to prevent the aid entering Venezuela and soldiers loyal to the socialist leader have barricaded the border crossing between Colombia and Venezuela that an aid convoy would need to take.

Guaido was nearly immediately recognised by the United States and its allies after he proclaimed himself Venezuela's interim president on 23 January, with Trump then telling CBS that the U.S. military intervention in Venezuela remains "an option".

It's a collection point for aid that's supposed to be distributed by backers of Juan Guaido, the congressional leader who is recognised by the United States as Venezuela's legitimate president. Mr. Trump has used Venezuela as an example of what, in the administration's view, happens when a country turns to socialism.

Venezuela is in the midst of a humanitarian crisis and Guaido says 300,000 people could die without the aid.

He did not explicitly say the food would be distributed in Cucuta.

US Military Delivers Aid to Colombia-Venezuela Border
Guaido accuses Maduro of being a "usurper" over his controversial re-election past year in polls widely branded as fraudulent. About 2.3 million Venezuelans have fled the country since 2015 as the crisis intensified, according to the United Nations.

"If it doesn't enter on the twenty-third, it will enter on the twenty-fourth, it will enter on the twenty-fifth" of February, he said.

President Nicolas Maduro denies there's a humanitarian crisis, saying the relief is a cover for a USA invasion - and his troops will not let it through.

While he said the U.S. is keeping all options on the table, Bolton added there would be "no effort to use military force to deliver the humanitarian assistance" that the Venezuelan government has refused to allow into the country. Those who remain have been punished by hyperinflation that has put scarce food and medicine out of reach for many.

Speaking in Spanish, Rubio warned that blocking the entry of USA food would amount to a "crime against humanity" and those responsible would spend "the rest of their lives hiding from justice".

But Venezuela's opposition leader Juan Guaido has called for crowds to converge on the border to collect the aid.

Mr Maduro has dismissed the humanitarian assistance as "crumbs" and "rotten and contaminated food" while blaming shortages of food and medicine on USA sanctions.