Venezuela’s Guaido visits Colombian border to receive aid

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Caracas, Feb 22 (IANS) Venezuela’s self-proclaimed Acting President Juan Guaido arrived on the country’s border with Colombia to organise the entry of humanitarian aid that incumbent Nicolas Maduro rejects as a plot to create a pretext for US military intervention.

Guaido, who reached the border on Thursday, said that the humanitarian aid being stored at border points in Colombia and Brazil, as well as on the island of Curacao, would be brought into the country on Saturday, reports Efe news.

The aid is being provided by the US and several other of the roughly 50 countries that have recognised Guaido as Acting President in the weeks following his January 23 proclamation.

Two days ago, Maduro’s government suspended all maritime and air travel between Venezuela and Curacao, a self-governing part of the Netherlands, whose government backs Guaido’s claim to the presidency.

The Venezuelan leader says the humanitarian aid initiative is a ruse and that the opposition’s ultimate goal is a military invasion aimed at ending 20 years of leftist rule.

Maduro announced on Thursday the arrival of 7.5 tons of medical supplies from Russia.

“The medicines we need, they are arriving in Venezuela every week on a permanent basis,” he said.

Three years ago, the National Assembly declared a state of emergency in response to chronic shortages of medical supplies and the deterioration of health-care infrastructure.

The latest results of the latest National Survey of Hospitals, released on Thursday, show that 1,557 patients died due to a lack of medicines or other vital supplies.

Maduro uses the term “blockade” to refer to Washington’s sanctions on the Venezuelan government, which began under former President Barack Obama but have been sharply escalated by incumbent Donald Trump and now constitute a virtual financial quarantine of Caracas.

Days after recognising Guaido as acting president, the Trump administration blocked the Maduro administration from receiving proceeds from the sale of Venezuelan oil to the US.

The UK, which likewise recognizes Guaido, has refused Maduro’s request to repatriate Venezuelan gold reserves kept in London.

The Colombian aid depot is in Cucuta, which is linked to the Venezuelan city of San Cristobal by the Tienditas bridge, a modern span completed in 2016 that has never been opened to traffic amid ongoing quarrels between Bogota and Caracas over migration, smuggling and cross-border crime.

As the US shipments began to arrive in Cucuta, the Venezuelan army parked large vehicles on their side of Tienditas, which was already bisected by mental fencing.

–IANS

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