Marco Rubio Jets Into Colombia as More Aid Arrives for Venezuela

April FrancisFeb 19, 2019

The senator was part of a US delegation visiting the Colombian border city of Cucuta, where humanitarian aid is being stockpiled for planned delivery to Venezuela.

While Trump has refused to rule out a US military intervention in Venezuela, Congressman Eliot Engel, the Democratic chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, said during a congressional hearing last week that lawmakers would not support such a move.

He has given February 23 - one month to the day after he proclaimed himself acting president - as the date for a showdown over the aid with the government of Maduro.

Guaido is the president of the National Assembly, a constitutional body that operates in parallel to the Constituent Assembly, a body Maduro established in 2017 for the objective of rewriting the Venezuelan Constitution.

The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), in turn, cautioned USA officials against politicising humanitarian assistance and delivering aid without the consent of local authorities.

Mr Guaido has the backing of more than 50 countries including 30 in Europe. Trump has officially recognized him as Venezuela's leader, but Maduro still controls the military and is using it to cling to power.

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Volunteer groups have begun meeting in "humanitarian camps" in several Venezuelan states to organise and prepare for the aid arrival. "How many concerts are they going to stage?"

Maduro calls the aid a "US orchestrated show" and denies any crisis in Venezuela.

Speaking in Spanish, Rubio warned that blocking the entry of USA food would amount to a "crime against humanity" and those responsible would spend "the rest of their lives hiding from justice". The shipments have been meant in part to dramatize hyperinflation and shortages of food and medicine gripping Venezuela.

Maduro is now refusing to allow in the food, medicine and other supplies.

Another US aircraft is due in Curacao from Miami on Tuesday, and a collection center for Brazilian aid will open Monday on the border, Mr Guaido's team said.

For analyst Benigno Alarcon, "as the regime closes the door on humanitarian aid, it closes it to a peaceful solution to the political situation in the country".

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