Published: Sat, February 09, 2019
Worldwide | By Jermaine Blake

Volunteers ready US aid set for Venezuela as Maduro digs in

Volunteers ready US aid set for Venezuela as Maduro digs in

Venezuelan interim president Juan Guaido once again urged the military Friday to let humanitarian aid into the country and said those who don't are "wretched".

Soaring hyperinflation has forced millions of Venezuelans to flee or go hungry as they struggle to find or afford basic goods and medicine.

Guaido has accused Maduro's troops of being complicit in a crime against humanity by blocking food and medical care.

The possible use of US military force to oust Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro raises concerns about the possible costs in lives and unintended consequences that may come from committing American troops to fight and die in another foreign conflict.

Speaking on Friday, Maduro said Venezuela's humanitarian crisis has been "fabricated by Washington" to justify "intervention" in the South American country.

Venezuela, already crippled by Maduro's economic policies, was plunged in political turmoil a year ago when he greatly reduced the power of the opposition-controlled National Assembly and created a parallel parliament that gave more control to regions of the country where he is more popular. Opposition leaders said three countries in the region will become aid hubs and that some nations, like Colombia, will likely have more than one collection site.

Mr Pouyanne continued: "We made a decision to evacuate all of our personnel from Venezuela given the current situation" adding that the evacuation process had begun more than a week ago.

He claims his legitimacy from the constitution, but Maduro - labeled a dictator by the West and his Latin American neighbors - insists his re-election past year was constitutional. He's managed to rally masses of Venezuelans into the streets to show their support, and he's won backing from almost 50 countries worldwide, including the United States.

On Monday, Canada hosted a meeting of the Lima Group regional bloc to discuss how the worldwide community can further help the people of Venezuela, including through immediate humanitarian assistance.

Romania's president has officially recognized Juan Guaido as Venezuela's interim president nearly a week after other European Union countries recognized him.

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The boxes of emergency aid came from the U.S. Agency for International Development, and are marked with USAID labels.

Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaido, who many nations have recognized as the country's rightful interim ruler, speaks during a meeting with students in Caracas, Venezuela February 8, 2019. He's offered to try to resolve the political impasse in a dialogue with opposition leaders, which critics call a stalling tactic that has failed to lead to any changes.

White House National Security Adviser John Bolton first raised alarm about deploying US forces to the region when he carried a notepad with a handwritten notation saying "5,000 troops to Colombia" during a news briefing about Venezuela oil sanctions.

His pledge followed comments by the US Ambassador to Colombia urging the Venezuelan military to allow the aid to enter the country.

The border bridge near where the aid is being stored has been blocked by the Venezuelan military.

"Take all that humanitarian aid and give it to the people of Cucuta, where there is a lot of need", Maduro said.

Guaido has given few details of his strategy, but says the food and supplies will reach Venezuela's most vulnerable people in the next days.

VIVOplay TV channel reported on Thursday that first containers with humanitarian aid have arrived to the Colombian city of Cucuta at the Venezuelan border.

"I think it's going to be next week, when we have formed the corps of volunteers and organized the distribution process".

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