Venezuela's Guaido won't rule out authorizing USA intervention
09 February, 2019, 09:23 | Author: Brooke Harris
Volunteers in the Colombian border city of Cucuta began preparing USA aid packets for Venezuelans, despite Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro vowing to not let in what he called on Friday "fake humanitarian" assistance.
His move ramped up tensions with Maduro's government even as many in Venezuela remain in desperate need of such supplies.
"I want to see how many military officers are willing to commit crimes against humanity by not allowing the lives of the most vulnerable to be saved, 250,000 to 300,000 are at risk of dying if they do not receive immediate attention", Guaido said during a gathering of university students.
Humanitarian organizations have warned that attempting to force the aid into the country would be risky, and a top USA official on Thursday said Washington did not plan to do so.
People cross the Simon Bolivar International Bridge on the border between Tachira in Venezuela and Cucuta in Colombia, on February 7, 2019.
Images show an orange oil tanker and two large blue containers positioned midway across the three-lane Tienditas Bridge, which connects Cucuta with San Antonio city in Tachira State in western Venezuela.
Supporters of the military option cite the Maduro government's alleged involvement in illegal drug trafficking, as well the growing flow of Venezuelan economic refugees in the region as justification.
Lester Toledo, who is representing opposition leader Juan Guaido in the aid mission, issued a message to troops, telling them the aid contains food and medicine their own families need.
"Brother, let the aid in".
Maduro has consistently denied that a humanitarian crisis is happening in the country, blaming food and medicine shortages on the U.S. sanctions, which have mostly targeted individuals and the state-owned oil company.
With the Venezuelan military still apparently loyal to Maduro, a source in Washington close to the opposition expressed doubts whether the Trump administration has laid enough groundwork to spur a wider mutiny in the ranks where many officers are suspected of benefiting from corruption and drug trafficking. "Maduro has to accept".
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Maduro has faced intense pressure since Guaido declared himself acting president on January 23, invoking a constitutional rule to open a rare challenge to Maduro's presidency.
The talks involve European Union foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini and are spearheaded by Mexico and Uruguay, two of the only Latin American countries not to have recognized Guaido other than Maduro allies such as Cuba.
Venezuela's Foreign Ministry has denounced any worldwide support for Guaido, suggesting that European governments were acting as part of a US-led effort to topple Maduro, who has showed no signs of relinquishing power.
In response, Maduro announced he was severing "diplomatic and political" ties with the USA, ordering all the US diplomatic and consular personnel to leave the country in 72 hours.
CNN could not independently verify the authenticity of the video.
Asked what would happen if the Venezuelan military blocks the aid from going in, Whitaker said any obstacles would be dealt with as they arise and reiterated that Trump has made clear nothing is off the table - though, he added, the priority is to arrange a broad worldwide mission.
Venezuela's interim president Juan Guaido urged demonstrators to continue their fight against the socialist tyrant Nicolas Maduro in Caracas today.
Maduro has criticized Trump for threatening the use of military force in his country and said Venezuelans would resist USA aggression.
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