Venezuelan Opposition Lawmakers Travel to Colombia to Collect Humanitarian Aid

Venezuelan opposition leader and self declared acting president Juan Guaido greets supporters at a demonstration called by supporters in the transportation sector, in Caracas on February 20, 2019
AFP Federico Parra

Venezuelan President Juan Guaidó led dozens of opposition lawmakers to the Colombian border on Thursday to collect a U.S. humanitarian aid convoy in defiance of the socialist regime’s attempts to block its entry.

Guaidó, who is legitimately the nation’s president despite dictator Nicolás Maduro still controlling the military, was seen off by waving crowds as he led a group of 80 opposition lawmakers for the 500-mile long trip from Caracas to the Colombian border town of Cucutá, where a humanitarian aid convoy provided by the U.S. and other regional contributors is still waiting for distribution.

The Maduro regime has repeatedly blocked attempts to bring aid into the country, as they deny the existence of a humanitarian crisis. Despite the alleged lack of a crisis, Maduro revealed this week that Russia had agreed to provide 300 tonnes of aid directly to the capital of Caracas, although such help is minimal compared to the $100 million in aid pledged by the wider international community.

In its attempts to block aid entry, the regime has deployed the military to secure the country’s borders with Brazil and Colombia, placing tankers across the Tienditas International Bridge connecting Venezuela with Colombia. This month, Maduro threatened to “not let a single invader” into the country.

“Nobody is going to enter Venezuela, not even a single invading soldier. We do not fear the threats of the American empire,” he said. “We tell Donald Trump as a people of peace that we do not fear him at all. Trump’s statement is criminal and threatening, very regrettable that the Venezuelan right applauds him with a gringo flag.”

Despite the regime’s efforts to block its entry, the opposition has already enlisted 600,000 volunteers to help deliver the aid into the country in the coming weeks, having already delivered 1.7 million portions of food for malnourished children and pregnant mothers.

“Even though they point their guns at us – and all of us have received threats, rubber bullets and even live ones – we are not afraid,” Guaidó said on Wednesday. “We will stay out in the street with our chests bared, demanding freedom for all of Venezuela.”

Brazil’s Foreign Ministry announced on Tuesday that they would defy Maduro and deliver the aid regardless with the help of Venezuelan truck drivers.

“The Brazilian government is mobilizing an inter-ministerial taskforce to define the logistics of supplying humanitarian aid to the people of Venezuela from February 23,” said Foreign Ministry spokesman Otavio de Rego Barros. “The aid, which includes food and medicine, will be made available in Brazilian territory for collection by the government of interim president Juan Guaidó, with Venezuelan trucks driven by Venezuelans.”

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