US food and medicine arrives in Venezuela, but blocked by Maduro
Trucks arriving at the Colombian border city of Cúcuta bearing humanitarian aid for Venezuela have been blocked at the Tienditas bridge connecting the two South American nations.
The aid convoy arrived in Colombia, but Maduro’s military forces have blockaded the bridge connecting Columbia to Venezuela with trucks, preventing the aid from reaching the country in turmoil.
“The United States is prepositioning relief items — including food, nutritional supplements, hygiene kits and medical supplies — in Colombia so they are available to reach those most in need in Venezuela as soon as possible,” a U.S. official.
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo tweeted a photo of the barricaded bridge: “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.”
Maduro, the president of Venezuela, denied the support, stating his country has: “never been, nor are we, a country of beggars.” This is despite the economic turmoil the country is facing under hyperinflation, which saw the Venezuelan currency become worthless due to the uncontrollable inflation rate that reached 1,700,000% in December.
This latest move presents another showdown between President Maduro, and President of the National Assembly Juan Guaidó, who earlier this year declared himself the interim President of Venezuela, promising free democratic elections once the country’s economic crisis has been resolved.
Donald Trump recognised the opposition leader as the as the legitimate president of Venezuela days after he was sworn in, stating the National Assembly is “the only legitimate branch of government duly elected by the Venezuelan people.”
The US were followed by 50 other countries, including France, Germany and the UK after an ultimatum to hold democratic elections was not met by the Maduro regime. UK Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt thus recognised Guaido “until credible elections can be held”.
Though, Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn condemned the Government’s position, stating: “Mr Maudro is still the president of the country. We don’t support outside interference. We think that dialogue and a negotiated settlement are needed to overcome the crisis in Venezuela. The future of Venezuela is for Venezuelans.” This criticism was echoed by the Shadow Foreign Secretary Labour’s Emily Thornberry, calling it “wrong” to recognise Guaido, but criticising the leadership of Maduro saying indirectly that he had betrayed every socialist value.
US draft UN resolution to Security Council, opposition from Russia
The US has drafted a resolution to the UN security council, calling for international aid deliveries and presidential elections in Venezuela while stressing “deep concern with the violence and excessive use of force by Venezuelan security forces against unarmed, peaceful protesters”.
In the text, the US expresses “full support for the National Assembly as the only democratically elected institution in Venezuela.”
Russia presented a counter-proposal pledging respect for Venezuela’s independence, critising “attempts to intervene in matters which are essentially within the domestic jurisdiction of Venezuela”.
A top adviser to Trump, National Security Council’s senior director for Western Hemisphere affairs, stated “there is not a single scenario” in which Maduro and his “cronies” are able to retain power in Venezuela.