FLASH: Interim President Juan Guaido refrained from asking supporters to continue risking their lives trying to break through the government’s barricades at the Colombian and Brazilian borders.
He will meet US VP Mike Pence Monday in Bogota at an emergency meeting of mostly conservative Latin American governments to discuss Venezuela’s crisis.
President Guaido says he will ask international community to keep ‘all options’ open in fight to free his country, and he will meet VP Pence in Colombia’s capital as crisis in Venezuela deepens.
Venezuela’s National Guard fired tear gas on opposition activists at a barricaded border bridge to Colombia Saturday, and 2 protesters were killed near the border in Brazil, as the opposition tried to execute a high-risk plan to deliver humanitarian aid over the obstinate refusal of President Nicolas Maduro.
Opposition leader Juan Guaido pulled himself onto a semitruck and shook hands with its driver as he and Colombian President Ivan Duque gave a ceremonial send-off to an aid convoy looking to transport nearly 200 metric tons of mostly US-supplied emergency food and medical supplies from the Colombian border city of Cucuta.
“Our call to the armed forces could not be clearer: put yourself on the right side of history,” he said in an appeal to troops constituting President Maduro’s last-remaining major plank of support in a country ravaged by hyperinflation and widespread shortages.
President Maduro struck back, breaking diplomatic relations with Colombia, whose government he accuses of serving as a staging ground for a US-led effort to oust him from power.
“My patience has run out,” President Maduro said, speaking at a rally of red-shirted supporters in Caracas and giving Colombian diplomats 24 hours to leave the country.
Venezuela’s military has served as the traditional arbiter of political disputes in the South American country, and in recent weeks, top leaders have pledged their unwavering loyalty to President Maduro. However, many believe that lower-ranking troops who suffer from the same hardships as many other Venezuelans may be more inclined to now let the aid enter.
Opposition leaders are pushing forward in belief that whether Maduro lets the aid in or not, he will come out weakened. They also contend that if the military does allow the food and medical gear to pass, it will signify troops are now loyal to Mr. Guaido.
Analysts warn that there may be no clear victor and humanitarian groups have criticized the opposition as using the aid as a political weapon.