USA delivers aid to town bordering Venezuela to undermine President Nicolas Maduro

Tuesday, 19 Feb, 2019

South Florida is home to more than 100,000 Venezuelans and Venezuelan-Americans, the largest concentration in the country.

At least one US military plane loaded with humanitarian aid has landed on Venezuela's border with Colombia.

A grave economic crisis has left millions in the once-wealthy country living in poverty, facing shortages of basic necessities such as food and medicine.

Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro speaks during an interview with The Associated Press at Miraflores presidential palace in Caracas, Venezuela, Thursday, Feb. 14, 2019. "Allow the humanitarian aid'".

But those who renounce Maduro have been promised amnesty by Guaido and the opposition-dominated congress.

Trump's speech carried a serious tone, particularly when he spoke about the USA aid that is being prevented from entering Venezuela by the Maduro regime - which he said is starving its own people.

A US official told Reuters the aid delivered on Saturday amounted to more than 200 tonnes, but a USA embassy representative said they had no measurements of the shipment.

Vassily Nebenzia told reporters at United Nations headquarters in NY on Thursday that this "would be a very bad development".

Speaking to a cheering crowd mostly of Venezuelan and Cuban immigrants, Trump said if the Venezuelan military continues supporting Maduro, "you will find no safe harbor, no easy exit and no way out".

Millions of Venezuelans will be traveling to the border to safeguard arriving aid, said Lester Toledo, a Guaido representative, at a news conference in Cucuta. He calls it a provocation that may "lead to something much worse than that".

"You can not hide from the choice that now confronts you", said Trump, who later ripped socialism as something that comes with big promises but only leads to poverty.

Slipping supplies into Venezuela, whether by plane or boat, would be another step towards overt U.S. intervention in Guaido and Maduro's power struggle.

He said Mr Guaido, who has declared himself interim leader, has won US and worldwide support to replace Nicolas Maduro.

John Bolton, Trump's national security adviser, indicated to reporters on Friday that many senior Venezuelan military officials have been "negotiating with the opposition". He said so many had volunteered to perform that it has to be held over two days.

Rubio, who has been an influential voice in advocating U.S measures against Maduro, noted that about 50 nations have declared Guaido the constitutional president of Venezuela, based on arguments that Maduro's re-election past year was fraudulent, and that other government-stacked institutions such as the supreme court have no legal authority.

"We are intent on going after those facilitating Maduro's corruption and predation", Mnuchin said, adding that Quevedo and others have syphoned off funds that "rightfully belong to the people of Venezuela".

Trump is also looking to draw a contrast with the policies of progressive Democrats, which he brands as "socialist" as he gears up for re-election.

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