Huge containers block aid from getting in to Venezuela amid crisis

EPA-EFE  Cristian Hernandez

The "International Contact Group" met in Uruguay's capital to discuss Venezuela's crisis for the first time since opposition lawmaker Juan Guaido declared himself interim president of the South American nation.

"Venezuela isn't going to allow a false show of humanitarian aid, because we're not beggars".

The items were being packed by volunteers into individual bags for Venezuelan families. 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.

"He's got friends in places like Cuba and Russia", Abrams said.

Lorries carrying USA humanitarian aid have arrived close to the Venezuelan border as a stand-off between President Maduro and the western democratic world escalates.

The U.S. government is also weighing possible sanctions on Cuban military and intelligence officials whom it says are helping Maduro remain in power, a second U.S. official and person familiar with the deliberations have told Reuters.

Maduro has rejected the global aid, saying: "We are not beggars".

"Maduro has proven he will manipulate any calls for negotiations to his advantage and he has often used so-called dialogues as a way to play for time", he said.

"Any potential political use of humanitarian aid can generate risks, in particular for those the aid is meant to support", said the letter, signed by 15 non-governmental organizations, including Oxfam, Mercy Corps and Save the Children.

Guaido identified the three collection points for worldwide humanitarian aid as the Brazil-Venezuela border, an as-of-yet unidentified Caribbean island, and Cucuta.

Venezuela's socialist economic system has been severely hit following the collapse of world oil prices in 2014.

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Soaring hyperinflation has forced millions of Venezuelans to flee or go hungry as they struggle to find or afford basic goods and medicine.

"But there is an opposition that want the country to go back to a democratic path".

Venezuela's army had to choose between "a dictatorship that does not have an iota of humanity, or to side with the constitution" from which he takes his legitimacy, Guaido said in an interview on Colombian radio. Guaido called upon the global community for humanitarian aid.

A top European Union official has called for a peaceful solution to Venezuela's crisis through free and transparent presidential elections as desperate residents gathered at the Colombian-Venezuela border demanding embattled President Nicolas Maduro allow in emergency food and medicine.

"There's an attempt to violate our national sovereignty with this "show" of a humanitarian operation by the government of Donald Trump", he said. Venezuela's chief military attache to the United States also said he was defecting late last month.

European nations have been broadly critical of Maduro but have sought to strike a counterpoint to the aggressive US stance by urging dialogue.

Omaria Perez, 44, was at the entrance of the Tienditas bridge early on Friday morning, writing messages on placards. He was arrested last month after he entered Venezuela clandestinely from Colombia.

"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. Her sign reads, "In the name of God, we declare peace and freedom for our attractive Venezuela". "Humanitarian aid does not substitute for the economy of a country".

Jose Mendoza, 22, held up the poster that Perez had made earlier, which stated, "in the name of God, we declare peace and freedom for our attractive Venezuela".

However military intervention opponents point out the humanitarian crisis in Venezuela does not pose a direct security threat to the United States.

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