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Tue, 21 Jan 2020 10:56 GMT

War of Words in Venezuela over US Aid


7Dnews London - AFP

Tue, 12 Feb 2019 14:35 GMT

Venezuela's opposition is pushing the military to let a US humanitarian aid convoy into the country, which President Nicolas Maduro says is a stepping stone to an invasion. The opposition is planning more marches AFP reported.

Opposition leader and self-declared president Juan Guaido will lead a rally in eastern Caracas on February 12th and called for demonstrations all over the country to mark Youth Day, as well as to honour 40 people killed in anti-government rallies in January, many of them young people.

"We are going back to the streets to demand the entry of humanitarian aid that will save the lives of more than 300,000 Venezuelans," said Guaido, who is speaker of the National Assembly.

Maduro will counterattack by leading a rally of young leftists opposing the "imperialist intervention" in the centre of Caracas, where the government says it will collect signatures of people who oppose President Trump.

The tug of war between Maduro and the opposition is focused on whether humanitarian aid will be allowed into the economically crippled country, which suffers shortages of food, medicine and other basics.

For five days, aid supplies including food and medicine has been piling up at collection centres in Colombia, near the border with Venezuela.

A modern bridge linking two border towns has been blocked with large containers and the tanker section of a big fuel truck.

The Venezuelan government distributed food and medicine on February 11th.

Guaido, recognized as president by some 50 countries, has offered amnesty to military personnel who dump Maduro and join his movement, telling them that blocking the badly needed aid is a crime against humanity.

The UN estimates that some 2.3 million people have left the country since 2015, while Guaido says almost 100,000 Venezuelans have signed up as volunteers to help bring in aid and distribute it to those most in need.

National Assembly president Guaido's envoys announced plans to establish a second aid storage centre in the state of Roraima, on Venezuela's southeastern border, after meeting with Brazilian officials in Brasilia.

Guaido's ambassador to Brazil, Maria Teresa Belandria, said she had received assurances from Brazilian Foreign Minister Ernesto Araujo over the new aid centre, and Lester Toledo, head of Guaido's aid distribution team, told reporters that the Roraima center would start receiving supplies next week.

On February 10th, dozens of doctors protested on the Venezuelan side of the border demanding that the aid, which started arriving at the Colombian town of Cucuta on Thursday, be allowed into the country.

The parliament speaker wants to oust Maduro and set up a transitional government ahead of new elections. To do so, he needs the support of the armed forces.

Guaido refused to rule out asking for foreign intervention in an interview last week.

The Venezuelan military meanwhile announced it had started conducting exercises, set to run until February 15th, to "reinforce the country's defensive capacity."

Meanwhile, the country’s financial accountability authority announced a probe into Guaido's income, saying he had "allegedly received money from international and national bodies without any justification."

Latin America