Maduro closes border with Brazil amid aid flap

Buses carry National Assembly deputies on the Francisco Fajardo highway in Caracas, Venezuela on Thursday as they head to the Tachira state at the border with Colombia where the humanitarian aid remains. Photo by Miguel Gutierrez/EPA-EFE

Feb. 22 (UPI) — Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro announced Thursday he is closing the border with Brazil and is considering doing the same on the border with Colombia over attempts to deliver humanitarian aid to the country.

Appearing on television, Maduro said there is no crisis in the country and that U.S. attempts to deliver aid to Venezuela are orchestrated to undermine his administration.

Chilean President Sebastian Pinera and Paraguayan President Mario Abdo also planned to travel to Colombia on Friday to help get humanitarian aid flowing into Venezuela.

Pinera said he plans to deliver more than 36,000 items from Chilean donors — including food, diapers and medicine — in a military cargo plane, La Tercera reported Thursday.

Abdo and Pinera will join Colombian President Iván Duque for a Friday night concert organized by Guaido the night before aid is supposed to enter Venezuela.

Chilean opposition has criticized Pinera’s travel plans as populist, La Tercera’s report said. Chilean Interior Minister Andres Chadwick dismissed the criticism, saying Chile has a stake in Venezuela’s return to democracy.

“We hope that the food and medicine can make its way into Venezuela and ask the Venezuelan government, which has the power and control, even as the government that Juan Guaido presides has the legitimacy,” Pinera said this week.

Pinera said Latin American presidents will meet in Chile in March to support regional development. Emphasis will be given to cooperation and integration of economic and political matters affecting the region, he said.

Both Paraguay and Chile are members of the group of Lima, which is composed of some of the largest Latin American countries and Canada. The member nations were among the first to side with Guaido.

Guaido left Caracas early Thursday morning for a people’s march and is expected to appear at one of four aid collection centers. The main center is in Cucuta, Colombia. Guaido has said aid distribution is Venezuela’s chief priority. Countries including the United States, Canada and Brazil have sent the aid.

On Wednesday, Guaido issued an ultimatum for Venezuelan military personnel to stop supporting President Nicolas Maduro before the aid arrives — offering amnesty to those who do.

Maduro has scheduled a competing benefit concert for Friday and said aid will be given to Colombians and Venezuelans at the same time in the border region.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here