August 19, 2019
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First shipment of US aid for Venezuela reaches Colombian border city

Cucuta, Colombia, Feb 7 (efe-epa).- The first shipment of humanitarian aid intended for Venezuela arrived Thursday in this Colombian border city, the US Embassy in Bogota said on Twitter.

The Twitter post was accompanied by photographs of people unloading containers of food and medication from the US Agency for International Development (USAID) at a warehouse in Cucuta.

"The first trucks of USAID humanitarian aid are in Colombia as the US positions assistance articles destined for Venezuela at the request of the interim president, Juan Guaido. We are working to deliver it as soon as possible," the embassy said.

Guaido, the speaker of the opposition-controlled National Assembly, proclaimed himself acting head of state on Jan. 23, denouncing incumbent President Nicolas Maduro as illegitimate.

Cucuta, the capital of Norte de Santander province, is the largest Colombian city on the border with Venezuela.

EFE saw two large trucks and seven smaller ones roll into Cucuta shortly before 3 pm, accompanied by a large contingent of Colombian police.

On Wednesday, the Venezuelan military erected metal fences across the middle on the Tienditas international bridge, the most important of the three linking Cucuta to Venezuela.

The Maduro government, which denounces Guaido's claim to the presidency as an attempted coup engineered by Washington, says it will not allow the shipment to enter Venezuela and US and Colombian officials have not disclosed how they plan to get the aid into the neighboring country.

"To impede the entry of the humanitarian aid to Venezuela is a crime," Colombian Foreign Minister Carlos Holmes Trujillo said Wednesday in Washington.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said Monday that the world body would continue to work with the Maduro government in implementing humanitarian and development programs in Venezuela.

Taking a similar position, the International Red Cross said that it would not take part in any attempts to deliver humanitarian aid to Venezuela without the approval of the existing government.

The United States quickly recognized Guaido and pledged to provide humanitarian aid amid hyperinflation and shortages in Venezuela.

More than a score of European and Latin American nations have followed Washington in recognizing Guaido.

Maduro won a second term in last May's presidential balloting by a wide margin, but much of the opposition boycotted the process and rejected the result as illegitimate, supported by the same foreign governments that now embrace Guaido.

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