Trucks carrying USA humanitarian aid destined for Venezuela arrived Thursday at the Colombian border, where opposition leaders vowed to bring them into their troubled nation despite objections from embattled President Nicolas Maduro.
He said the aid should be given to the poor in the Colombian city of Cucuta, where the supplies are being stockpiled.
Lester Toledo, who is representing opposition leader Juan Guaido in the aid mission, issued a message to troops, telling them the aid contains food and medicine their own families need.
On Monday, the press office for Carlos Vecchio, opposition leader Juan Guaido's envoy to the United States, said that the opposition would conduct an global conference in Washington, DC, on February 14 to seek emergency humanitarian assistance.
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More defiantly, the socialist president contends that the aid is part of a US -led coup against him, with a goal to colonize Venezuela and exploit its vast oil resources. The first shipment includes food kits for 5,000 Venezuelans and high-protein nutritional supplements that can treat an estimated 6,700 young children with moderate malnutrition.
"If the White House's goal is regime change in Venezuela, which appears to be the case, then they should be concerned that their actions are generating a backlash against the U.S.in Venezuela and in the region", said Main.
At Maduro's request, Pope Francis said he would be willing to mediate but only if both parties were willing. "This is a down payment".
Asked what would happen if the Venezuelan military blocks the aid from going in, Whitaker said any obstacles would be dealt with as they arise and reiterated that Trump has made clear nothing is off the table - though, he added, the priority is to arrange a broad global mission.
Negotiation remains unlikely unless the army distances itself from Maduro and "puts in place another interlocutor", says Anna Ayuso, of the Center for International Affairs (CIDOB) in Barcelona.
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A growing list of almost 50 countries has thrown their support behind Guaido.
The talks involve European Union foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini and are spearheaded by Mexico and Uruguay, two of the only Latin American countries not to have recognized Guaido other than Maduro allies such as Cuba.
But any aid shipments will need the cooperation of the powerful military which despite a few defections remains loyal to Maduro and is still seen as key to the outcome of the country's power struggle.
"If they dare to continue blocking the way, all these volunteers will go open a humanitarian channel", he said.
Venezuela's dire situation has fueled a political crisis that has peaked over the last month with Guaido invoking a constitutional provision to declare himself the legitimate, interim president. They are now effectively treating Maduro as a usurper.
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