Venezuelans not ‘beggars,’ give humanitarian aid to Colombians — Maduro

Venezuelans not ‘beggars,’ give humanitarian aid to Colombians — Maduro

Venezuelans not ‘beggars,’ give humanitarian aid to Colombians — Maduro

A few trucks of food and medicines are now blocked on the Colombian border. But it is not clear when or whether the aid will reach people inside the country.

Sen. Rick Scott, R-Fla., said "Cuban thugs" are helping Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro remain in power.

Critics accuse Maduro, Chavez's hand-picked successor, of unfairly winning an election last year for a second six-year term by banning his popular rivals from running.

The Red Cross urged Venezuelans not to politicize the aid issue, without saying how or if the aid would arrive.

Guaido claims that up to 300,000 people face death if the aid is not delivered, following years of economic crisis and shortages of basic food and medicines.

PDVSA typically imports some 100,000 barrels per day (bpd) of naphtha, mostly from the United States, to dilute up to 400,000 bpd of extra heavy oil produced by joint ventures at the vast Orinoco Belt, Venezuela's largest producing region, and make it exportable. Venezuela's chief military attache to the United States also said he was defecting late last month.

"He's got friends in places like Cuba and Russia", Abrams said.

The Times noted that there were other border roadways that were open where vehicles could cross, calling the blockade "a show of defiance by the government of President Nicolas Maduro".

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About a dozen human rights activists stood at the gated entrance to the Tienditas International Bridge on Colombia's side, demanding Maduro allow the emergency aid to cross into Venezuela.

"I'd be really disappointed if we didn't have a deal", Scott said.

Trump last week issued sweeping sanctions against state oil company PDVSA, froze profits generated by refining subsidiary Citgo, and has vowed to starve Maduro's government of all revenue.

A majority of 14 countries in the "International Contact Group" urged Venezuela to return to the rule of law and respect its constitutional institutions - starting with the democratically elected National Assembly.

Guaido, who has the backing of some 40 countries, including the United States, is seeking to oust Maduro following a 2018 election that many have denounced as a sham.

The official declined to provide details on the discussions or the level at which they are being held, and it was unclear whether such contacts could create cracks in the Venezuelan socialist leader's support from the military, which is pivotal to his grip on power.

Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro and first lady Cilia Flores acknowledge supporters at the end of a rally in Caracas, Venezuela, Feb. 2, 2019.

CNN could not independently verify the authenticity of the video.

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U.S. President Trump acknowledged in an interview Sunday the use of U.S. military force in Venezuela is "an option".

Venezuela is in the midst of a power struggle following the National Assembly's declaration that Maduro is an usurper, and several countries - including the USA - now recognize opposition leader Juan Guaido as the nation's legitimate president. The Venezuelan military has blocked the bridge where the aid is stationed and Maduro is refusing to allow it in. "Let's say our slogan loudly, "Loyal Always, Traitors Never" so it can be heard in Washington", he said.

Canada and the Lima Group representing most Latin American nations have also cautioned against force to resolve the stand-off in Venezuela.

Spain, Italy, Portugal were among European nations signing the declaration with Uruguay, Ecuador and Costa Rica.

But as the gathering got underway, tensions were playing out farther north in the Colombian border town of Cucuta.

Offers of humanitarian assistance are coming in from around the world.

The aid seems unlikely to move into Venezuela.

He said: "Everyone knows that there will be no clashes between civilians in Venezuela".

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The US military is prepared to "protect" US personnel and diplomatic facilities in Venezuela if needed, the admiral in charge of American forces in South America says.

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