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Venezuela: I won't let United States aid cross the border, says President Maduro

Venezuela: I won't let United States aid cross the border, says President Maduro

Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro blocked American aid from reaching the country this week, accusing the us of trying to smuggle weapons to opposition factions and using the offer of aid to suggest he was unable to care for his people's needs.

The aid, which arrived in Cucuta on Thursday, includes flour, lentils, rice and cooking oil as well as personal hygiene items like toothbrushes and soap, Colombian, Venezuelan and United States officials told reporters.

Speaking at the Central University of Venezuela Friday, Guaido called on Venezuelans to hold popular assemblies in their towns this weekend to organize volunteers to receive the aid and called on the military to let the supplies through.

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro slammed the European Union (EU)-backed International Contact Group on Venezuela, but said he would be prepared to meet its representatives, while self-proclaimed interim head of state Juan Guaido said his supporters were ready to create a humanitarian corridor if the incumbent blocks international aid.

The United States is imposing a ban on the travel of the Venezuelan National Constituent Assembly's members to the USA, said a US envoy on Venezuela-related issues.

"They squeeze us by the neck and then make us beg for crumbs".

A worker organises humanitarian aid for Venezuela at a warehouse near the Tienditas cross-border bridge between Colombia and Venezuela in Cucuta, Colombia, February 8, 2019.

In response, Maduro announced he was severing "diplomatic and political" ties with the USA, ordering all the US diplomatic and consular personnel to leave the country in 72 hours.

It's possible the Venezuelan government fears aid crossing the border could be used as cover for an invasion to depose Maduro.

"Dear military personnel, this aid is also for you. here comes food for your children, here comes medicine for the people who are suffering", he said.

They want to invade and intervene in Venezuela - they say, as they said then - in the name of democracy and freedom.

Venezuela's socialist economic system has been severely hit following the collapse of world oil prices in 2014.




He insisted that Venezuela is not facing a crisis, though during the news conference, the power went out twice.

A top White House official said Friday that an Federal Bureau of Investigation raid on a bank in Puerto Rico is an example of the administration using all available "tools" to pressure Venezuela's socialist leader, Nicolas Maduro.

"Take all that humanitarian aid and give it to the people of Cucuta, where there is a lot of need", Maduro said.

The Contact Group, which says it includes countries with a "neutral" perspective on the Venezuela crisis, chided Maduro over the deaths of 40 opposition protesters last month.

And he said a first attempt to bring in the aid should be made next week.

The pro-Maduro Supreme Court has already barred Guaido from leaving the country and frozen his bank accounts while prosecutors investigate what they call his anti-government activities.

Colombia has borne the brunt of the exodus of Venezuelans fleeing malnutrition and political turmoil in their once-prosperous nation, with about 800,000 flooding over the border and settling in Colombia.

"The people of the United States should know that this complex, multi-form aggression is being carried out with total impunity and in flagrant violation of the United Nations Charter, which expressly forbids the threat or use of force, among other principles and resolutions in the pursuit of peace and relations of friendship amongst nations", he added.

Perez has been separated from most of her family, some back in Venezuela while others have gone to Peru and other countries to search of job opportunities.

Jose Mendoza, 22, held up the poster that Perez had made earlier, which stated, "in the name of God, we declare peace and freedom for our attractive Venezuela".

"At the same time, what they did with humanitarian aid is a cheap spectacle".

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