April 21, 2019
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Guaido says aid to come in soon, African nations back Maduro

Caracas, Feb 10 (efe-epa).- The humanitarian aid that is being stockpiled in the Colombian border city of Cucuta will begin entering Venezuela in the "coming days," the head of the opposition-controlled Parliament, Juan Guaido, said on Sunday.

"The aid is ... at the collection centers and we expect that in the coming days we'll have the first entry" into Venezuela, said the interim president, who is recognized as the country's legitimate leader by dozens of nations around the world, to reporters after attending Sunday Mass in Caracas.

In addition to the aid collection activities in Cucuta, "in kind" humanitarian aid of various sorts has begun to be collected at two other sites - one in Brazil and another on an as-yet-unspecified Caribbean island.

It is forecast that the medicine and food being collected in Cucuta will enter Venezuela via the Tienditas bridge, a modern structure that links the two nations.

However, members of the Bolivarian National Guard - the GNB, Venezuela's militarized police - have blocked the bridge using three large truck trailers, thus preventing vehicles from crossing from Colombia

Guaido said that elected Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro "refuses to acknowledge the crisis that they created."

In that regard, he emphasized that Venezuelans must work "very hard ... so that the usurpation (of power by Maduro) ends" and "simultaneously attend to the emergency."

Therefore, he said that blocking the entry of humanitarian aid makes the Maduro government into "almost a genocidal" regime because "they're murdering by action and by omission."

Once again, he sent a message to the military and expressed his doubts about whether "anyone today wants to sacrifice themselves to adhere to the call by a person (Maduro) who has lost his bearings and who has no international support."

Guaido also emphasized that it is "very clear" that "civility ... without doubt will support the entry of the humanitarian aid."

Also on Sunday, Guaido said that his wife's grandmother was intimidated by "collectives," as the armed civilian paramilitary organizations that support Maduro's Chavista government are known.

"On (Saturday), in Tovar, where my daughter Miranda's great-grandmother lives, Fabiana's grandmother, several collectives were ordered to go to (her) house," Guaido told reporters in Caracas at the close of the Sunday Mass.

Meanwhile, Maduro launched a series of military exercises that will last until next Friday, taking advantage of the occasion to shout "Get out!" to his US counterpart - Donald Trump - claiming that Washington intends to intervene militarily or otherwise in Venezuela.

"Let Donald Trump not threaten us. Get out of Venezuela, Donald Trump. Out with your threats, here there is an armed force and here there is a people to defend their honor, dignity and the decorum of a homeland that has been fighting for more than 200 years," Maduro said at an event with the military in the state of Miranda, near Caracas.

In his remarks, which were broadcast on state-run VTV television, Maduro announced that he will approve the investments needed for Venezuela "to have a complete anti-aircraft and anti-missile defense" and make the "US empire ... pay dearly" should it have the "temerity to touch the sacred soil of ... Venezuela."

Also on Sunday, more than 30 Venezuelan physicians crossed into Colombia and then traveled to the Tienditas international bridge, where they demonstrated to call for the entry of humanitarian aid into their country, stating that "it can save many lives."

The doctors, wearing their white coats, stationed themselves at the border crossing, where they displayed a gigantic Venezuelan flag and began calling for the entry of the aid that is being collected in Cucuta, Colombia, just across the bridge from Venezuela, as well as in Brazil and in the Caribbean.

They said that they work in the cities of San Antonio and Ureña in Tachira state, and most of them had crossed into Colombia over the Simon Bolivar bridge and then headed to Tienditas in taxis, buses and by other means.

Meanwhile, the 16 countries of the Southern Africa Development Community expressed their solidarity with the Venezuelan people and with Maduro, whom they called the "democratically elected" president, condemning attempts by foreign leaders to "interfere" in Venezuela's affairs.

They also urged the international community to respect the result of the May 2018 election, which Maduro won handily, largely because he banned opposition figures from taking part.

In Addis Ababa, UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres called for dialogue between the Venezuelan government and opposition.

Puerto Rico Gov. Ricardo Rossello on Sunday said that he does not know where the humanitarian aid his administration sent to Venezuela currently is, but the island's secretary of state, Luis Rivera Marin, said that it had arrived in the South American country.

Rossello told reporters at a session of the governing PNP party that "for security reasons" he did not know the location of the aircraft that took off from San Juan with the aid last Thursday.

"The important thing is that there's a commitment to Venezuela. I don't have any information. The information about this (aid) could not be divulged for security reasons. But our commitment is we're going to redirect all that aid to arrive in Venezuela and get to its president, Juan Guaido. I don't know where it is," he said.

When questioned about whether Rivera Marin made a mistake when he said that the plane carrying the aid had arrived in Venezuela, Rossello answered that the important thing is the island's interest in the South American country.

In Venezuela, however, thousands of citizens on Sunday signed up on a specially created Web page to be volunteers who will distribute food and medicine to their fellow citizens - if and when it arrives from abroad.

The move comes after Guaido announced the establishment of a Web page to organize the ranks of volunteers who want to participate in distributing the humanitarian aid, although for the moment that aid is being blocked by the Maduro government and the country's military.

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