Saturday, 20 April, 2019

Venezuelan tensions take a unusual turn at the Colombian border

Venezuelan opposition leader and self declared acting president Juan Guaido, arrives to take part in a demonstration called by the transportation sector to support him in Caracas Vice President Mike Pence will go to Colombia to demand Maduro step down | McClatchy Washington Bureau
Leonard Rios | 23 February, 2019, 02:37

President Nicolas Maduro said Venezuela would shut its border with Brazil on Thursday "until further notice" amid a tense standoff with US-backed opposition leader Juan Guaido over allowing in humanitarian aid.

The dueling concerts will literally set the stage for a showdown between Venezuela's beleaguered government and opposition leaders who are pledging to draw masses of people to the country's western border Saturday to try to usher in aid that Maduro has vowed not to accept into the country. President Nicolas Maduro has prevented the aid from entering the country and threatened to close the border.

The US considers Maduro usurper and recognizes as the head of state the self-proclaimed acting president Juan Guaido, whose opposition group is the designated receiver of the "aid".

Opposition lawmakers set off from Caracas in a convoy of buses just after 10 a.m. on a 800-km (500-mile) road trip to the border with Colombia.

Humanitarian aid should not be forced into Venezuela, lest it cause violence, China's Foreign Ministry said on Friday, warning that Beijing opposed military intervention in the country.

Meanwhile, a group of Venezuelan lawmakers clashed with soldiers outside Caracas as they tried to drive a truck through a highway roadblock on their way to the Colombian border.

Colombia's migration authority said Wednesday that it expelled five Venezuelan citizens on claims they wanted to sabotage a festival that seeks to raise aid funds for their country.

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There will be two free concerts near the Tienditas International Bridge at the Colombia-Venezuela border on Friday. Lawmakers trying to get through scuffled with soldiers in riot gear at the tunnel's exit, TV footage showed.

The US has been stockpiling humanitarian aid on the Colombian border. It had earlier said it would assit aid efforts.

Guaido still has not provided details on how the aid could come in. Opposition figures have suggested forming human chains across the Colombian border to pass packages from person to person and fleets of boats arriving from the Dutch Caribbean islands. "That is a decision of the Venezuelan people, so I think, Jorge, there's got to be a free and fair election", Sanders said.

According to Maduro, Duque informed his US counterpart Donald Trump that "he does not have the backing of the Colombian armed forces for an attack on Venezuela".

Mr Guaido is backed by the United States and dozens of nations, while Mr Maduro is supported by Russia, China, Cuba, Turkey and many other countries.

United States envoy for Venezuela Elliott Abrams has a record of using humanitarian convoys to smuggle arms to Latin American countries targeted for regime change by Washington, and Caracas says he is now trying to follow the same script in Venezuela.

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