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Venezuela blocks border as Maduro tries to keep troops on side

Venezuela blocks border as Maduro tries to keep troops on side

On Monday, the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement said they could not participate in the distribution of international humanitarian aid to Venezuela from Colombia if there was no prior agreement with those organizations.

He accused the Trump administration of trying to violate national sovereignty by co-ordinating the shipment of hundreds of tonnes of medicines, medical equipment and nutritional supplements.

Opposition leader Juan Guaido, who requested the worldwide assistance, said it is necessary in a country racked by shortages of basic goods. His press conference in Caracas was twice interrupted by power cuts, which have become common in the capital.

CNN reported Thursday that the Maduro government blocked a bridge on the Colombia-Venezuela border, preventing USA -sent humanitarian aid from reaching the country.

Some European countries gave an ultimatum to Maduro, urging him to call an early presidential election within eight days, and after the deadline had expired, they recognized Guaido as interim president.

The opposition considers the presidency of Maduro, who has been the head of state since 2013, to be illegitimate after he won "fraudulent" election last May without any meaningful competition.

Colombian officials and a CNN photojournalist at the scene confirmed the presence of the blockade, which would effectively prevent humanitarian aid from reaching Venezuela via this route.

"Venezuela will not allow the show of. humanitarian aid because we do not beg from anyone", Maduro told reporters.

"Maduro has proven he will manipulate any calls for negotiations to his advantage and he has often used so-called dialogues as a way to play for time", he said. In that sense, the governor stressed that Washington seeks justifications for the military intervention and thus seize Venezuela, its oil and mining resources.

Maduro has criticized Trump for threatening the use of military force in his country and said Venezuelans would resist US aggression.

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Venezuela, already crippled by Maduro's economic policies, was plunged in political turmoil past year 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.

Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro attends a gathering in support of his government in Caracas, Venezuela February 7, 2019.

"The aid is going to be backed by popular support, by hundreds and thousands of people who need it", he said.

The Trump administration expects further military defections from Maduro's side, the official told Reuters in an interview, despite only a few senior officers having done so since opposition leader Juan Guaido declared himself interim president last month, earning the recognition of the United States and dozens of other countries.

Last month, the 35-year-old Guaido was named leader of the opposition-controlled National Assembly.

The possible use of USA 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.

Maduro, who last weekend rejected an European Union ultimatum to organize snap presidential elections, said he would welcome the mission.

A majority of 14 countries in the "International Contact Group" urged Venezuela to return to the rule of law and respect its constitutional institutions - starting with the democratically elected National Assembly.

"The body has usurped numerous constitutional powers of the legitimate National Assembly and embodies Maduro's destruction of democratic institutions", Abrams told reporters.

On Friday, the Supreme Court asked the attorney general's office to investigate alleged "criminal" conduct by Guaido and the legislature over the "usurpation of functions" that correspond to Maduro.