Aid reaches border with Venezuela

Aerial view of trucks loaded with humanitarian aid for Venezuela driving to the Tienditas Bridge on the border between Cucuta Colombia and Tachira Venezuela where Venezuelan military officers have blocked the bridge

The arrival of the aid convoy, which includes supplies provided by the U.S., has increased the pressure on Maduro after Washington as well as nations from across Latin America and Europe supported opposition leader Juan Guaido as interim leader of Venezuela.

Venezuelan leader Nicolas Maduro said on Friday that he would not allow "fake" humanitarian aid to enter the country.

Venezuelan volunteers, Colombian firefighters and rescue workers prepare USAID humanitarian aid for storage at a warehouse next to the Tienditas International Bridge, near Cucuta, Colombia, on the border with Venezuela, Friday, Feb. 8, 2019.

"I think it is very risky, because it means that the actions that they propose are far out of proportion of, you know, really what is necessary to preserve us security interests", said Alexander Main, a Latin America political analyst and director of International Policy at the Center for Economic and Policy Research in Washington. "People, people and more people bringing in humanitarian aid".

Pressure is growing on Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro, but he shows no sign of giving in to calls from the worldwide community for him to step down.

Maduro's troops continue to block aid from the United States on the border with Colombia, with Maduro accusing President Donald Trump of treating his people like 'beggars'.

United Nations spokesman Stephane Dujarric told reporters in NY, "humanitarian action needs to be independent of political, military or other objectives".

Offers of humanitarian assistance are coming in from around the world. Opposition leaders said three countries in the region will become aid hubs and that some nations, like Colombia, will likely have more than one collection site. 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.

Additional aid is being stored in Miami and Houston and "ready to be deployed to the region immediately", the US said in a statement.

"We believe these to be those first couple pebbles before we start really seeing bigger rocks rolling down the hill", the official said this week, speaking on condition of anonymity. "This is a down payment".

Still, he said, rank-and-file soldiers were starving "just like the population" of Venezuela. According to the New York Times, Maduro has "long relied on food handouts to keep his political base loyal during the country's long economic collapse", so shipments of aid are seen as a threat to the dictator as he struggles to fend off a coup.

A growing list of almost 50 countries has thrown their support behind Guaido. The United States has urged the countries of the world to recognize Guaidó as the country's president. President Klaus Iohannis said Romania made a decision to join other European Union countries in recognizing Guaido partly because Bucharest now holds the EU's rotating presidency.

But Maduro is still in control of the military and is using it as leverage to maintain power.

Today, Romania also revealed it officially recognises opposition leader Juan Guaido as Venezuela's legitimate interim president. Steps the lawmaker has taken are therefore void and he is usurping presidential powers, Mendoza said. They are now effectively treating Maduro as a usurper.

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