US sends aid to Venezuela, Maduro rejects on invasion grounds
Venezuelan military officers blocked a bridge on the border with Colombia ahead of an anticipated humanitarian aid shipment from the U.S., as opposition leader Juan Guaido stepped up his challenge to President Nicolas Maduro’s authority.
Guaido, who proclaimed himself acting president on January 23 and sparked an international crisis, claims that up to 300,000 people face death if the aid is not delivered.
Venezuelan military officers used a tanker truck and huge shipping container to block access to the Tienditas Bridge, which links Cucuta, Colombia to Urena, Venezuela.
Maduro, 56, has repeatedly accused the United States of fomenting a coup.
The U.S., which has not ruled out a military intervention in crisis-wracked Venezuela, was the first to recognize him as acting president, followed by a dozen Latin American countries.
In his State of the Union address on Feb. 5, President Donald Trump reaffirmed U.S. support for Guaido, saying “we stand with the Venezuelan people in their noble quest for freedom.”
“We don’t defend Maduro or his regime, nor are we taking a political position, we want there to be dialogue,” Foreign Minister Marcelo Ebrard said in an interview with local television.
Major European countries on Feb. 4 joined most members of the Lima Group, including Argentina, Brazil and Canada, supporting Guaido as interim Venezuelan leader and calling for free elections.
Meanwhile, Venezuela’s socialist party boss, Diosdado Cabello, threatened to hold early legislative elections that could gut the congress, which is the only branch of government controlled by the opposition. He accused the opposition of taking orders from the United States.