March 16 (UPI) — American Airlines slashed the few remaining flights between Venezuela and the United States on Friday, a day after U.S. diplomats left the nation reeling from a week-long blackout and water shortages.
According to a Friday report on CNBC, American Airlines suspended all flights to Venezuela after its pilot union raised concerns about flying there, citing unrest and health risks. The Miami Herald also confirmed the flight suspension, which it said was temporary.
An El Nacional report citing a company source, however, said there would now be one round-trip daily flight.
Venezuelans are still recovering from a blackout that affected nearly the entire country for a full week. The country also endured water shortages and looting while thousands in hospitals endured a scarcity in medicine.
National Assembly leader Juan Guaido, who is recognized by several nations including the United States as the interim leader of Venezuela, said in a tweet Friday, “We insist on helping those most vulnerable, yesterday we managed to give donations in hospitals, while the regime blocks and burns food and medicine. With the end of usurpation, not only will we get humanitarian aid but also defeat poverty.”
Guaido said in January and February that he was going to collect donations and humanitarian aid in collection centers outside Venezuela, along its borders with Colombia and Brazil. The plan was to bring it into Venezuela on Feb. 23, but Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro blocked the entry of that aid.
The National Assembly has declared the Venezuelan presidency vacant on grounds that Maduro’s re-election was illegal. Maduro, backed by the military, refuses to hand over the government to Guaido.
Russia, China, Cuba and Mexico are among the countries that recognize Maduro as Venezuela’s president.