Venezuelan troops kill at least 2 during clash near Brazil border

April FrancisFeb 24, 2019

Maduro has consistently denounced the US-backed aid initiative, calling it a "Trojan horse" for invasion, and said that there is no humanitarian crisis in Venezuela.

"The agencies of the United Nations and the International Committee of the Red Cross are not taking part in the US-Colombian show on the [Venezuelan] border due to a certain reason: it is absolutely clear that this operation has political goals and could not be described as humanitarian", Arreaza wrote on his Twitter page.

Opposition leader Juan Guaido, the National Assembly president, whom the United States and almost 60 other countries have recognized as interim president instead of Maduro, hopes for more defections.

Venezuela's National Guard fired tear gas during clashes with protesters on Saturday 23 February, 2019, as the opposition began making good on its high-risk plan to deliver humanitarian aid to Venezuela despite objections from President Nicolas Maduro.

"This is the biggest battle that the armed forces can win", said Sheyla Salas, 48, who works in advertising.

Earlier in the day, Branson held a news conference near a never-used border bridge that Venezuelan authorities have blocked with shipping containers.

Friday's violence broke out in the village of Kumarakapay in southern Venezuela after an indigenous community stopped a military convoy heading toward the border with Brazil that they believed was attempting to block aid, according to community leaders Richard Fernandez and Ricardo Delgado. "He is sending us rotten food, thank you!"

Sanguino said that 'the Colombian government is acting in the wrong way by encouraging confrontation and polarization, using humanitarian aid, which could lead to war. Several soldiers, whose families suffer from the same shortages as other Venezuelans, took up his offer.

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On Thursday afternoon, organizers on the Colombia side of the border bridge were doing sound checks while in Venezuela a dozen workers sat idly in white plastic chairs chatting and listening to Venezuelan folk music on small speakers.

Meanwhile, four National Guard troops deserted their posts near the border, one greeted by a crowd of cheering Venezuelans on the Colombian side as he walked across.

Guaido has vowed that hundreds of thousands of volunteers will help bring in the relief supplies today. This comes as the Venezuelan opposition has promised that aid will enter Venezuela Saturday, defying the government's orders.

Maduro blames the country's dire situation on US sanctions that have blocked the country from obtaining financing and have hobbled the OPEC nation's oil industry.

Maduro declared that he is breaking diplomatic relations with Colombia, which has called for his ouster and thrown its support to Guaidó.

"If there is any type of violence, or if there is any type of negative reaction from the hierarchy of the Venezuela armed forces, there may also be measures that are announced by the vice president and other countries in regards to closing even further the global financial circle", the official said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

Trump's national security adviser John Bolton canceled plans to travel to South Korea to prepare for a summit addressing North Korea's nuclear program in order to focus instead on events unfolding in Venezuela, his spokesman said on Friday.

The Trump administration last month slapped sanctions on state-owned oil company Petroleos de Venezuela PDVSA.UL, known as PDVSA, to cut Maduro off from his government's main source of revenues.

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