Venezuela’s Maduro blocking bridge to keep out humanitarian aid
The Venezuelan military has barricaded a bridge at a key border crossing in an apparent bid to block humanitarian aid from entering the strife-ridden country, Colombian officials said Wednesday.
The Tienditas International Bridge was blocked a day prior by the Venezuelan National Guard with a giant orange tanker, two large blue containers and makeshift fencing near the border town of Cucuta in Colombia.
The bridge is at the same site where officials plan to store humanitarian aid that opposition leader Juan Guaido is vowing to deliver to Venezuela.
The Trump administration has pledged $20 million in aid and Canada has promised another $53 million.
The aid squabble is now the latest front in the battle between Guaido and President Nicolas Maduro, who is vowing not to let the supplies enter the country.
Maduro argues Venezuela isn’t a nation of “beggars” and has long rejected receiving humanitarian assistance, equating it to foreign intervention.
Looking up at the giant containers blocking the bridge Wednesday, aid worker Alba Pereira shook her head and dismissed the barricade as another government ploy.
She said that humanitarian volunteers would find a way to get the aid into the country regardless.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo demanded that Maduro stop blocking humanitarian assistance from entering the country.
The Venezuelan people desperately need humanitarian aid. The U.S. & other countries are trying to help, but #Venezuela’s military under Maduro’s orders is blocking aid with trucks and shipping tankers. The Maduro regime must LET THE AID REACH THE STARVING PEOPLE,” he tweeted on Wednesday.
Tensions are high for a third week since Guaido announced he rightly assumed the presidency, vowing to oust Maduro and restore democracy.
Also Wednesday, Venezuela’s opposition disclosed the opening of a US fund to bank oil income — a key step to secure financing in its effort to boot Maduro.
The fund would receive income earned by state-run oil firm PDVSA’s US unit Citgo Petroleum Corp. since last month, when President Trump recognized Guaido as Venezuela’s legitimate head of state, opposition legislator Carlos Paparoni told Reuters.
Most Latin American and European countries also recognize Guaido, although Italy so far has not.
Guaido, head of Venezuela’s National Assembly, has reached out to Italy’s ruling coalition seeking its support.
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