Venezuela’s Maduro Blocks Border with Brazil, Considers Shutting Border with Colombia
21 February 2019, 22:06
Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro said Thursday he would consider closing the country’s border with Colombia and would definitely shutter the border with Brazil, VOA reports.
Maduro made the announcement in a televised interview shortly after a caravan of Venezuelan opposition leaders led by National Assembly President Juan Guaido departed for the Venezuela-Colombia border to receive humanitarian aid for needy citizens over the objections of Maduro.
Guaido declared himself interim president in late January and is recognized by the U.S. and dozens of other countries as Venezuela’s legitimate head of state.
A spokesman for Guaido said he and other opposition lawmakers left Caracas early Thursday for the 900-kilometer trek in a column of several vehicles.
The opposition intends to deliver tons of U.S.-supplied food and medicine by land and sea Saturday that is warehoused in the Colombian border city of Cucuta, despite Maduro’s order to the military to disrupt their plans.
Maduro views the operation as part of a U.S.-led campaign to force him out of office. In the interview, Maduro said the opposition plans were a “provocation.”
Guaido said the aid will help alleviate widespread shortages of food and other essential goods after years of hyperinflation, which has forced more than 3 million citizens to flee the country.
Maduro’s socialist government denies an economic crisis exists and has said security forces would maintain a presence along Venezuela’s borders to prevent any intrusions.
It remains unclear how the opposition plans to transport the aid into Venezuela, but some members of the opposition have suggested using human chains across the border and fleets of Dutch Caribbean boats.
in other developments, U.S. Vice President Mike Pence will fly to the Colombian capital, Bogota, Monday to discuss the crisis, his office said on Thursday. Pence will meet with regional leaders, including Colombian President Ivan Duque, and Venezuelan families who are seeking refuge outside the country.