Guaido says Venezuela aid 'on the way' amid border showdown, army defections

Guaido says Venezuela aid 'on the way' amid border showdown, army defections

Kerry Wise
February 24, 2019

Since Wednesday, Maduro troops have been preventing the entry of USA humanitarian aid into Venezuela from Brazil and other neighboring countries friendly to the United States.

At least five Venezuelan troops have abandoned their posts at the country's border with Colombia as confrontations with protesters over incoming humanitarian aid grow more violent by the day.

Opposition leader Juan Guaido has vowed to bring humanitarian aid across into Venezuela from Colombia over objections from President Nicolas Maduro. Get your hands off Venezuela Donald Trump. "We've been told colectivos shot at people at the border and the situation is grave", said the group's director, Alfredo Romero, who said the organization had a team on the ground.

Standing near one of the red trucks carrying the containers of aid at the entrance to a cargo port, Venezuelan priest Julio Gonzalez, 33, blessed the cargo and sprinkled holy water on the excited crowd.

Friday's violence broke out in the village of Kumarakapay in southern Venezuela after an indigenous community stopped a military convoy heading toward the border with Brazil that they believed was attempting to block aid, according to community leaders Richard Fernandez and Ricardo Delgado.

But the United States announced on Friday preparations to bring aid in through another route.

Humanitarian aid for Venezuela will be unloaded at the Simon Bolivar bridge on Colombia's side of the border and the aid will be transported by a human chain across the frontier, Colombia's migration agency said on Saturday.

The plan to bring in aid is one of the most ambitious - and potentially risky - that the opposition has attempted to undertake since Guaido declared himself interim president in January. The Venezuelan military must allow humanitarian aid to peacefully enter the country.

Venezuelan soldiers may bar the way.

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The US government has sent 200 metric tons of relief supplies to the Colombian border to be delivered to the Venezuelan people, but Maduro won't let them have it.

Ms Zakhorava has also accused Venezuela's opposition Juan Guaido's of bringing U.S. supplies across the Columbian border to provoke clashes and allow "a convenient pretext for conducting military action".

Some political analysts say the looming showdown is less about solving Venezuela's needs and more about testing the military's loyalty to Maduro by daring it to turn the aid away.

Hours later, Caracas said it had closed much of the Colombian border, citing threats to Venezuela's security.

He blames the country's dire situation on USA sanctions that have blocked the country from obtaining financing and have hobbled the OPEC nation's oil industry. "There is nothing crueller than a government that denies and closes the entry of humanitarian aid that his own people need so much".

"For that reason, I have chose to break all political and diplomatic relations with Colombia's fascist government", he told cheering supporters.

Late Friday, US National Security Adviser John Bolton canceled a planned trip to South Korea to focus on Venezuela, according to his spokesman.

"The United States strongly condemns the Venezuelan military's use of force against unarmed civilians and innocent volunteers on Venezuela's border with Brazil", the White House said in a statement, adding: "The world is watching".

Guaido's move to assume the interim presidency and global backing has galvanized Venezuela's opposition, which has vowed to keep protesting until Maduro steps down. "We are with you".