Venezuelan Authorities Clash With Protesters Along Colombian Border

Ann Santiago
February 24, 2019

While the country's poverty has soared to record levels with a lack of medicine and food, Maduro denies the humanitarian crisis exists and says the USA aid efforts are part of a plot to bring down his government.

He says opposition efforts to bring in aid is a US-backed "cheap show" to undermine his Government. However, AFP reporters there witnessed a truck halted at the border which had yet to cross. We already know that they are with the people, you have made it very clear to us. "We have to fight".

Venezuela closed its border with Colombia yesterday after Guaido crossed it in defiance of a travel ban.

With inflation running at more than 2 million per cent a year and currency controls restricting imports of basic goods, many Venezuelans lack vital medicines and a growing share of the country's roughly 30 million people is suffering from malnutrition.

"I'm a homemaker, and I'm here fighting for my family, for my children and parents, resisting the military's tear gas and soldiers on motorbikes", said Sobeida Monsalve, 42.

Venezuela's embattled Maduro denies any crisis in his country and has refused to allow global aid despite often-empty supermarket shelves, long lines for government-subsidized food, and hospitals lacking in basic supplies and medicines.

Elsewhere, Venezuelan National Guard forces fired tear gas and rubber bullets at several crossing points on the Colombia border, pinning down demonstrators seeking to reach humanitarian aid stockpiled on the other side.

On Feb. 22, troops had opened fire in a village in the area killing a woman and her husband.

"I ask the armed forces, is it constitutional for them to fire against unarmed indigenous people?" said Jorge Perez, a local councilman in Gran Sabana, the district where the town is located who said he was present when the soldiers opened fire.

Two people were killed by Venezuelan forces near the border with Brazil.

A demonstrator lies on the ground after hitting a barbed wire while clashing with security forces in Urena, Venezuela, on February 23, 2019.

Local media report people jumping the barricades to cross the border at the Venezuela-Colombia border, while opposition MPs post defiant messages on social media denouncing the use of force.

"In demand of respect for elementary rules of global law, we call on [Colombian President] Ivan Duque to cease its infamous actions and stop facilitating the territory of Colombia to attempt, following orders of [U.S. President] Donald Trump against the right of the Venezuelans to live in peace and sovereignty", Rodriguez was quoted by Venezuelan news channel Telesur as saying.

Colombian television also showed images of what it said was a Venezuelan officer who identified himself as Major Hugo Parra, recognizing Guaidó as president.

The Venezuelan government ordered the closure three border crossings "due to the serious and illegal threats by the government of Colombia against peace and the sovereignty of Venezuela", Vice-President Delcy Rodriguez said Friday.

Maduro blames the country's dire situation on USA sanctions that have blocked funds and hobbled the OPEC member's oil industry.

Meanwhile, employing a less violent means of protest, supporters and opponents of the Maduro government are facing off against each other this weekend in a 'battle of the bands'.

Russian's Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova has claimed the USA and its North Atlantic Treaty Organisation allies are discussing plans on how to arm the opposition in Venezuela and oust Mr Maduro from presidency.

Maduro argued that foreign aid was an attempt by the United States to undermine his authority.

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