Venezuela in crisis: All the latest updates

    Venezuela has plunged into a major political crisis amid a growing row over President Nicolas Maduro’s future as the country’s leader. 

    Maduro started a second term on January 10, following a widely boycotted election last year that many foreign governments refused to recognise.

    On January 23, Juan Guaido, leader of the opposition-controlled National Assembly, declared himself interim president.

    Shortly after Guaido took an oath swearing himself in, US President Donald Trump publicly recognised him as the country’s leader. 

    Maduro accused Guaido of staging a coup and ordered his arrest.

    Here are all the latest updates as of Wednesday, February 27:

    US seeks UN vote on Venezuela for Thursday: diplomats

    The United States is seeking a vote Thursday at the UN Security Council on a draft resolution calling for “free, fair and credible” elections in Venezuela and free access for humanitarian aid, diplomats said.

    Russia, an ally of President Nicolas Maduro’s regime, is likely to use its veto power to oppose the text, which also expresses “deep concern with the violence and excessive use of force by Venezuelan security forces against unarmed, peaceful protesters.”

    Guaido to meet Bolsonaro 

    Venezuela’s opposition leader Juan Guaido is due to meet Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro in Brasilia late Wednesday, sources from both camps said.

    Guaido will travel to the Brazilian capital from Colombia, where he has stayed since Friday despite a travel ban imposed on him by the regime of Venezuela’s socialist leader Nicolas Maduro.

    Brazil and Colombia are Guaido allies that have been holding humanitarian aid the National Assembly speaker wants to bring into Venezuela.

    Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaido speaks during a meeting of the Lima Group in Bogota [Luisa Gonzalez/Reuters]

    Maduro, Trump should meet to ‘find common ground’: Venezuela FM

    Venezuela’s foreign minister said that the United States was trying to overthrow the government of Nicolas Maduro and that his country had lost $30bn in assets “confiscated” since November 2017 under sanctions.

    Jorge Arreaza, addressing the UN Human Rights Council despite a walk-out by dozens of Western envoys, suggested that Maduro and US President Donald Trump meet to “try to find common ground and explain their differences”.

    “We’re calling for dialogue, dialogue with the United States – why not between Presidents Maduro and Trump? Why shouldn’t they meet so that they could try to find common ground and explain their differences?”

    Read more here.

    Venezuela Minister of Foreign Affairs Jorge Arreaza addresses the 40th session of the Human Rights Council at the United Nations [UN/Reuters]

    Tuesday, February 26

    US ‘to impose more sanctions’ on Venezuela this week and next week

    US Special Representative for Venezuela Elliott Abrams said on Tuesday that Washington would impose more sanctions on Caracas this week and next week to bring about additional pressure on the government of President Nicolas Maduro, whose legitimacy Washington has challenged.

    Speaking ahead of a Security Council meeting on Venezuela sought by the United States, Abrams said he hoped the UN Security Council will vote this week on a resolution calling for Venezuela to allow the entry of humanitarian assistance into the country.

    Abrams denied Russian accusations that the US is preparing for military intervention in Venezuela, but repeated that all options are on the table.

    Peru canceling visas of Venezuelan diplomats at Lima embassy: official

    Peru is canceling the visas of diplomats at the Venezuelan embassy in Lima, and will notify them that they will be in the country illegally starting from March 9, a Peruvian official said on Tuesday.

    Deputy Foreign Minister Hugo de Zela said in a broadcast interview with radio station RPP that Peru recognises Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaido’s designated ambassador to Peru and will no longer acknowledge embassy officials appointed by Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro.

    Venezuela opposition’s US envoy asks Trump to increase pressure on Maduro

    Carlos Vecchio, the Venezuelan opposition’s envoy to the United States, met US President Donald Trump recently and asked him to increase pressure on socialist President Nicolas Maduro, Vecchio’s office said in a statement on Tuesday.

    Mexico president refuses to choose sides in Venezuela conflict

    Mexico’s president, asked about recognising Venezuela’s Guaido, urged all parties to seek a peaceful situation to the conflict via dialogue.

    Asked about the detention of journalists in Venezuela on Monday, Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador said he did not want to involve himself in a polarised situation and remained committed to a policy of non-intervention in the affairs of other governments.

    Russian official accuses US of preparing military intervention in Venezuela

    Russia believes the United States is preparing a military intervention in Venezuela, the RIA news agency cited the secretary of Russia’s Security Council as saying on Tuesday.

    Nikolai Patrushev was also cited by the Interfax news agency as saying Russia had agreed to a proposal from Washington to hold consultations on Venezuela, a close ally of Moscow, but the United States had repeatedly postponed them on invented pretexts.

    Monday, February 25

    Brazil wants non-military pressure on Venezuela 

    Brazil’s vice president, retired general Hamilton Mourao, said on Monday that under no circumstances would his country allow the United States to intervene militarily in Venezuela from Brazilian territory.

    In an interview with Globo News cable channel, Mourao said Brazil will do all it can to avoid a conflict with neighbouring Venezuela.

    He spoke from Bogota, where he attended a meeting of the Lima Group, a bloc of nations from Argentina to Canada dedicated to peaceful resolution of the Venezuelan crisis.

    Pence on Venezuela: ‘all options are on the table’

    Vice President Mike Pence reiterated the US position on Venezuela Monday, insisting that a military intervention to force President Nicolas Maduro from power has not been ruled out.

    “We hope for a peaceful transition to democracy. But President Trump has made it clear: all options are on the table,” Pence said after meeting with Venezuela’s opposition leader Juan Guaido at a Lima Group gathering in Colombia.

    US asks UNSC to meet on Venezuela: diplomats

    The United States has asked the United Nations Security Council to meet to discuss the situation in Venezuela on Tuesday, said diplomats after Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro’s troops repelled foreign aid convoys at the weekend.

    The United States has been pushing the 15-member council to formally call for free, fair and credible presidential elections in Venezuela with international observers, a move that prompted Russia to propose a rival draft resolution. It was unclear if or when either draft text could be put to a vote.

    Moscow and Washington have been at loggerheads over a US-led campaign for international recognition of Venezuelan opposition leader and head of the country’s elected National Assembly Juan Guaido over Maduro. Guaido last month declared himself interim head of state.

    US sending aid for Venezuela migrant crisis

    Vice President Mike Pence says the United States is sending another $56m to neighbours of Venezuela to help them cope with migrants fleeing that nation’s deepening crisis.

    Pence said Monday that the United States has already provided more than $139m in aid to help Venezuela.

    He spoke in Colombia’s capital at a meeting of The Lima Group, a coalition of mostly Latin American nations formed to address Venezuela’s turmoil.

    Pence also met with opposition congressional leader Juan Guaido, who has declared presidential powers, arguing that the re-election of socialist President Nicolas Maduro was invalid.

    Pence said the US has sent five military transport planes with 400 tonnes of food and medicine to Colombia and Brazil.

    Deadly clashes erupted over the weekend when Maduro refused to allow the aid cross, calling it part of a US-led coup.

    Mike Pence: President Guaido, we are with you 

    US Vice President Mike Pence told Juan Guaido, who declared himself Venezuela’s interim president, that the United States stands with him. 

    “President Trump has asked me to convey a message to him, President Guaido: we are with you, and we will be until the freedom and democracy come back,” he said. 

    “As of today, the United States will impose additional sanctions on the regime’s officials.”

    Pence also asked Latin American nations to freeze Venezuela oil assets. 

    “We call on all Lima Group nations to immediately freeze the assets of PDVSA,” he said.

    “Secondly, transfer ownership of Venezuelan assets in your country from Maduro’s henchmen to President Guaido’s government,” and he also called on the countries to restrict visas for officials close to Maduro and to vote to recognise the representative of Juan Guaido, Venezuela’s self-declared interim president, at the Inter-American Development Bank.

    US Vice President Mike Pence and Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaido attend a meeting of the Lima Group in Bogota [Luisa Gonzalez/Reuters]

    Guaido: We are here to recover Venezuela’s democracy 

    The opposition leader Juan Guaido is about to speak in a meeting of the Lima Group and has started requesting a “minute of silence for the massacre Venezuelans experienced on February 23,” according to local media reports. 

    “This meeting is aimed at the recovery of democracy in Venezuela, and the respect for human rights. Today Maduro thinks that by blocking the humanitarian aid, he has gained a victory. They dance in Caracas, on top of indigenous tombs,” he added.

    “The dilemma is between a dictatorship and democracy. Between massacres or saving lives.”

    “Today the transition is being blocked by irregular armed groups,” Guaido explained, “without those weapons we would have a pacific transition.”

    US Vice President Mike Pence and Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaido observe a minute of silence in honour of the victims of February 23 [Luisa Gonzalez/Reuters] 

    Colombia president wants to close circle around Maduro

    Colombia’s President Ivan Duque called on members of the Lima Group meeting in Bogota on Monday to create a “more powerful and effective” ring around Venezuela’s socialist leader Nicolas Maduro.

    Duque, who met with Venezuela’s opposition leader Juan Guaido and US Vice President Mike Pence, said added pressure would facilitate the “rapid construction of the transition demanded by the Venezuelan people.”

    Colombia’s President Ivan Duque speaks during a meeting of the Lima Group [Luisa Gonzalez/Reuters]

    US ramps up pressure on Venezuela with fresh sanctions

    The US has imposed sanctions on four Venezuelans as it ramped up pressure on Venezuelan President Nicholas Maduro, whose election Washington sees as illegitimate.

    The action, which was announced in a post on the US Treasury’s website, coincides with US Vice President Mike Pence attending a meeting of the regional Lima Group of nations in Bogota, where he was expected to announce steps against Maduro’s government.

    Pence: Aid delivery violence steeled US resolve to back Guaido

    Violence during the attempted delivery of much-needed food and medicine to Venezuela over the weekend has steeled the United States’ resolve to support opposition leader Juan Guaido, US Vice-President Mike Pence said on Monday.

    The US will keep standing with Guaido until freedom is restored is the South American nation, Pence said at a meeting of the regional Lima Group bloc.

    China rebukes foreign opponents of Maduro

    China’s foreign ministry has issued a rebuke to foreign opponents of Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro, saying China opposes “intervention by external forces in the internal affairs of Venezuela.”

    Foreign ministry spokesman Lu Kang says China “also opposes using the so-called humanitarian aid to serve political ends and stir up instability and even turmoil in Venezuela and its neighborhood, which is not in the interests of any party.”

    Lima Group begins meeting on next steps in Venezuela crisis

    Venezuela opposition leader Juan Guaido and US Vice President Mike Pence took part in a meeting of the Lima Group in Colombia on Monday to discuss a joint strategy to resolve Venezuela’s crisis.

    “In the Lima Group we’re fighting to find a peaceful solution,” said Peru’s Foreign Affairs Minister Hugo de Zela.

    A group of demonstrators takes part in a protest as a meeting of the Lima Group. The placard reads ‘No to the war, we defend life [Carlos Julio Martinez/Reuters] 

    EU says military intervention in Venezuela must be avoided

    The European Union on Monday urged countries to avoid any military intervention in Venezuela, the spokeswoman for diplomatic chief Federica Mogherini said.

    “We must avoid a military intervention,” Maja Kocijancic told reporters, as Venezuela’s opposition leader Juan Guaido was in Bogota to hold talks with allies in the regional Lima Group of countries on measures to compel President Nicolas Maduro to leave office.

    Evo Morales calls for dialogue 

    Bolivian President Evo Morales called on the Lima Group to seek a solution for Venezuela on the basis of dialogue, as an option to avoid a war in Latin America. 

    “Brother Presidents of the Lima Group: Respecting our political differences and as democratically elected leaders, I ask you, with much respect, to seek a solution through dialogue as an option to save lives and prevent war from bringing destruction to our LA,” Morales wrote on his Twitter account.

    Sunday, February 24

    Pence to announce ‘concrete steps’ in Venezuela crisis 

    US Vice President Mike Pence is set to announce “concrete steps” and “clear actions” to address the Venezuela crisis when he meets on Monday with regional leaders in Bogota, a senior US administration official said.

    The official declined to comment on what the new measures would entail ahead of Pence’s speech, which he will deliver to a summit of the Lima Group around 15:30 GMT after he meets with Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaido.

    UN’s high commissioner for human rights condemns violence 

    Michele Bachelet condemned violence at points on the Venezuelan border where opposition figures have been trying to bring in aid shipments.

    The former Chilean president focused her criticism on excessive use of force used by Venezuelan security forces, as well the involvement of pro-government groups.

    “The Venezuelan government must stop its forces from using excessive force against unarmed protesters and ordinary citizens,” she said. 

    Bachelet urged Maduro’s government “to rein in” pro-government groups reportedly using force against protesters.

    “The use of proxy forces has a long and sinister history in the region,” she added, “it is very alarming to see them operating openly in this way in Venezuela.”

    Clashes along the border in Brazil

    Renewed clashes have broken out between protesters and Venezuelan national guardsmen at the border with Brazil.

    Dozens of Venezuelans who had come to the Brazilian border city of Pacaraima began throwing rocks across the closed border at Venezuelan troops, who responded with tear gas and buckshot.

    Globo television broadcast images of a Brazilian soldier advancing to the boundary line on Sunday to appeal for calm from the Venezuelan soldiers and to urge protesters and journalists to move back.

    Cleanup begins on Venezuela-Colombia border after unrest

    Venezuelan migrants on Sunday helped clean debris from a bridge where troops loyal to President Nicolas Maduro a day earlier fired tear gas on activists trying to deliver humanitarian aid in violent clashes that left two people dead and some 280 injured.

    Colombian President Ivan Duque reinforced security around two international bridges near the city of Cucuta and ordered that they remain closed for 48 hours to allow for the cleanup effort.

    Colombia: At least 285 wounded in border clashes

    Civil defence officials in Colombia said at least 285 people had been wounded in clashes at border bridge crossings.

    On Monday, the Lima Group will meet and discuss “the events that took place on Saturday in Venezuela,” Colombia’s President Ivan Duque wrote.

    “[What happened] is clearly object of reproach by the international community, due to the barbarism and violence.”

    “[On Monday] we will also debate how to strengthen the diplomatic siege that we have imposed [against] the dictatorship in Venezuela,” he added.

    Two Venezuelan soldiers ask for asylum in Brazil: official

    Two Venezuelan soldiers have sought refuge in Brazil Colonel Georges Feres Kanaan, a member of Brazil’s migration service, told AFP on Sunday.

    Feres Kanaan said he was manning a welcoming post for Venezuelan migrants in Pacaraima on Brazil’s border with its northwestern neighbour when the two soldiers “presented themselves asking for asylum.”

    Pompeo: Maduro’s ‘days are numbered’

    US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo expressed confidence that President Nicolas Maduro’s “days are numbered,” amid a violent impasse over humanitarian aid.

    “Predictions are difficult. Picking exact days is difficult,” Pompeo told CNN. “[But] I’m confident that the Venezuelan people will ensure that Maduro’s days are numbered.”

    Mauricio Macri: ‘The situation… is dramatic’

    Argentinian president Mauricio Macri has condemned the “repression used by the government of Nicolas Maduro” on Saturday.

    The president accused the leader of “imposing suffering on his people”.

    “The situation that Venezuelans are living is dramatic. I want to condemn the repression deployed by Maduro and his actions to prevent Venezuelans from receiving humanitarian aid,” he wrote on Twitter.

    “Once again, I renew Argentina’s support to the president in charge Juan Guaido, and support to the efforts that it carries out together with the National Assembly to allow the entry of food and medicines destined to alleviate the suffering that policies of the Maduro regime has imposed on all Venezuelan people.”

    Brazil says Maduro’s violence to block aid ‘criminal act’

    Brazil condemned the violence used by Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro’s government this weekend to block aid shipments from crossing the border, branding it a “criminal act” and calling on the international community to join efforts to “liberate” the South American nation.

    Meanwhile, Brazilian Army Colonel George Feres Kanaan told Reuters on Sunday that two Venezuelan national guard soldiers deserted to Brazil late Saturday, joining some 60 military officials who defected in Colombia.

    EU ready to boost aid to Venezuela: Mogherini

    The European Union said it was prepared to “scale up” humanitarian and development aid to ease the plight of Venezuelans.

    “We recall our commitment to help those in need for as long as it takes, to scale up this assistance,” EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini said in a statement in the name of the bloc’s 28 members following deadly border clashes.

    Sunday, February 23 

    ‘A long day of fighting’ 

    “The opposition has given up on getting the aid through at least for today,” Al Jazeera’s Alessandro Rampietti reported from Cucuta. 

    “Two of the four trucks carrying the aid have already left, the two remaining trucks are behind me and we have been told by some of the opposition officials that they are moving them back to the Tienditas bridge at the warehouse where most of the aid has been stored.”

    “The opposition is considering that they tried, at least for today… it’s been a long day of fighting over this bridge, and in the bridge of Urenia, where two of the trucks were burned to the ground by people supporting President Nicolas Maduro,” he added.

    Venezuelan youth run for cover from tear gas launched by Venezuela’s National Guard [Fernando Vergara/AP]

    Guaido: Maduro has violated international law

    Opposition leader Juan Guaido said that Maduro has violated international law by the way he has handled the aid.

    “We keep receiving the support of the international community, they have been able to see how this usurper regime violates the Geneva protocol, where it clearly states that destroying aid is a crime against humanity,” he wrote on Twitter. 

    According to Colombian officials, 23 members of Venezuelan security forces deserted, and  12 people were wounded during clashes in the border.

    Maduro responsible for safety of Colombian embassy staff: Minister

     Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro is responsible for the safety of Colombian diplomats in Venezuela, Colombia’s foreign minister said on Saturday, after Maduro formally broke off relations with Bogota.

    “Colombia holds the usurper Maduro responsible for any aggression or violation of the rights of Colombian officials in Venezuela,” Foreign Minister Carlos Holmes Trujillo said.

    Meanwhile Colombian Vice President, Marta Lucia Ramirez said that Maduro “cannot break a diplomatic relation that Colombia does not have with him.”

    “Our government has not named an ambassador there nor do we recognise Maduro’s ambassador since his term ended on January 9.” she wrote on Twitter.

    Two people killed in Venezuelan town near Brazil 

    Two people were killed, and 18 have been injured, in the Venezuelan town of Santa Elena de Uairen in clashes with security forces over the opposition’s plan to bring in aid from nearby Brazil, a doctor at the hospital where they were taken said.

    Venezuelans rescue aid from burning trucks 

    Venezuelans are rushing to rescue boxes of emergency food and medicine from burning trucks stalled on a bridge to Colombia.

    Fernando Flores, an eyewitness, said national guardsmen had torched the trucks once they crossed into Venezuelan territory.

    Maduro has vowed to block any aid shipments, considering them a “Trojan horse” intended to pave the way for foreign military intervention

    Aid truck goes up in flames on Colombian border 

    One truck in a convoy attempting to bring humanitarian aid into Venezuela from Colombia went up in flames on Saturday, sending plumes of dark smoke into the air, footage from a Venezuelan television channel showed.

    Another truck almost went on fire on Urena’s border. “The regimen is using the vilest acts and it has tried to burn a truck with humanitarian aid in Urena,” Guaido wrote. 

    “Our brave volunteers are making a human chain to safeguard the food and medicines.”

    Guaido: Trucks are in Venezuela 

    Opposition leader Guaido says humanitarian aid from Colombia has entered Venezuela, but Venezuelan forces have prevented them from moving any further.

    “They won’t be able to stop our decision to live in freedom.” Guaido wrote. 

    Venezuela severs relations with Colombia

    Venezuela President Nicolas Maduro breaks diplomatic relations with neighbouring Colombia.

    “Patience is exhausted, I can’t bear it anymore, we can’t keep putting up with Colombian territory being used for attacks against Venezuela. For that reason, I have decided to break all political and diplomatic relations with Colombia’s fascist government,” Maduro said in a speech.

    Maduro: ‘I hold the reins, and I’ll … keep them in my hand’

    President Nicolas Maduro addressed thousands of supporters in Caracas and said:

    “[For our] Dignity, we will fight harder than ever.”

    “Hard, standing and governing our motherland for now and for many years, on behalf of our destiny, with the reins in our hand.

    “I hold the reins of the motherland, I hold the reins on behalf of the young people, university students, when I hold the reins, I’m holding them on your behalf, working mothers .. military members.. men and women alike …”

    “Today is February 23rd and a month ago exactly, at this under the same sun, I saw you at the Miraflores palace, we met there, and what did I tell you … that days will go by,  weeks will go by and Nicolas Maduro the worker’s president will continue at the head of the motherland.”

    Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro speaks during a pro-government march in Caracas [Yuri Cortez/AFP]

    Security forces use tear gas in Simon Bolivar bridge: report

    Members of the Bolivarian police fired tear gas to remove people from Simon Bolivar’s bridge, El Nacional, a local news agency reported.

    “There are women that have fainted and are under the trucks,” a Venezuelan citizen told media. 

    Rival demonstrations in Caracas

    Thousands are flooding the streets of Venezuela’s capital in rival demonstrations as opposition leaders vow to move shipments of humanitarian aid into the country despite objections from President Nicolas Maduro.

    In Caracas, Maduro loyalists marched by the thousands to the city centre to the sounds of brass bands, while others rode motorcycles.

    Opposition supporters are converging on a Caracas military base, urging soldiers to join their fight. 

    Supporters of the Venezuelan opposition leader take part in a rally in Caracas [Carlos Jasso/Reuters]

    Aid to be passed by human chain from Colombia 

    A convoy of trucks carrying humanitarian assistance for Venezuela will be unloaded at the Simon Bolivar bridge on Colombia’s side of the border and the aid will be transported by a human chain across the frontier, Colombia’s migration agency said.

    Al Jazeera’s Alessandro Rampietti reporting from Colombia said this is so far “the biggest showdown on the battle for the legitimacy of Venezuela.”

    “You have President Nicolas Maduro that remains firmly in power, and you have the leader of the opposition, Juan Guiado, who declared himself the interim president who is saying that Maduro is nothing more than a usurper at this point.”

     “This action is very important because it’s the way for the opposition to show that they are able to be successful in so far the biggest act of defiance against President Maduro. it would be a way for him to show some legitimacy and to show that he can bring some level of change in the country even if he doesn’t control any level of power so far.”

    Meanwhile Caraca’s former major Julio Borges told Al Jazeera that  “a humanitarian crisis cannot turn into a political blade.”

    “People are here, because people in Venezuela are hungry and they need help,” he added.

    Additional reporting by Mia Alberti in Cucuta, Colombia

    Trucks carrying humanitarian aid for Venezuela in the area of a warehouse [Mia Alberti/Al Jazeera]

    Aid shipment enters Venezuela via Brazil border: Guaido

    Venezuela’s opposition leader Juan Guaido announced that a first shipment of humanitarian aid had entered Venezuela through its border with Brazil.

    “Attention Venezuela: We officially announce that the first shipment of humanitarian aid has now entered our border with Brazil. This is a great achievement, Venezuela!” wrote Guaido in a tweet.

    Aid convoy leaves Colombian warehouses

    A convoy of trucks carrying humanitarian aid for Venezuela left warehouses in Colombia headed for the nearby border crossing, despite Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro’s insistence they would not be allowed to cross.

    Speaking on the Colombian side of the border, opposition leader Juan Guaido called on troops to allow the convoy to cross. Alongside him, Colombian President Ivan Duque said Maduro would be responsible for any violence.

    Truck carrying aid crosses Brazil border: opposition lawmaker

    A truck carrying humanitarian aid crossed into Venezuela from Brazil at midday on Saturday, opposition lawmaker Miguel Pizarro told reporters in Caracas.

    A Reuters witness said, however, that while the truck was on Venezuelan soil, it had not yet passed through the customs checkpoint.

    Guaido: Humanitarian aid on its way to Venezuela

    Opposition leader Juan Guaido gives a statement to the media alongside Colombia’s President Ivan Duque and Paraguay’s President Mario Abdo Benitez.

    US-donated aid is “on its way” to Venezuela, Guaido announced.

    “The humanitarian aid is definitely going to Venezuela in a peaceful and calm manner to save lives at this time,” said Guaido, at a ceremony to launch the effort on the Colombian side of the border in defiance of a blockade by President Nicolas Maduro.

    “This is a landmark point in our history” 

    “To the Generals and all the countries that have formed [part of] this coallition… we are eternally grateful to you all.” he added. 

    Additional reporting by Mia Alberti in Cucuta, Colombia

    Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaido speaks to the media alongside Paraguay’s President Mario Abdo Benitez and Colombia’s President Ivan Duque [Marco Bello/Reuters]

    Aid from Brazil sent to border with Venezuela

    The first truck with humanitarian aid from the Brazilian government has arrived in the city of Pacaraima on the border with Venezuela.

    The crossing has been closed on orders from Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro and the truck loaded with food and medicine will now wait in Brazilian territory.

    Brazil’s Foreign Minister Ernesto Araujo said he expects Maduro’s government to allow the aid to pass.
    “It is very exciting to see people anxious to recover their freedom and have a decent life,” Araujo said.

    Bolton: ‘The world is watching’

    US President Donald Trump’s national security adviser John Bolton cancelled plans to travel to South Korea to prepare for a summit addressing North Korea’s nuclear program in order to focus instead on events unfolding in Venezuela, his spokesman said on Friday.

    National Security Adviser Jonh Bolton has sent a message to the military forces.

    Four Venezuelan soliders desert before aid handover

    Four National Guard troops at the frontier disavowed Maduro’s government on Saturday, following an appeal from Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaido to let aid through.

    A social media video showed the troops driving armoured vehicles across a bridge linking the two countries, knocking over metal barricades in the process, and then jumping out of the vehicles and running to the Colombian side.

    Colombia’s migration authority confirmed the defection of the four Venezuelan soldiers.

    Opposition leader Juan Guaido expressed his support on Twitter in Spanish.

    Translation: Venezuela, those guards and members of the Armed Forces who decide to join our fight are not defectors.

    They have decided to side with the people and the Constitution!

    Welcome! The arrival of Freedom and Democracy in Venezuela is already unstoppable.

    Tear gas and rubber bullets

    Venezuelan security forces fired tear gas and rubber bullets on Saturday to disperse a crowd demanding to cross the Venezuela-Colombia border, ordered closed by President Nicolas Maduro.

    Demonstrators clash with Venezuela’s security forces in Urena [Andres Martinez Casares/Reuters]


    Security forces block Colombian border

    Before daybreak, a large contigent of national guards in riot gear forced people to move away from the road to the Simon Bolivar bridge connecting Venezuela and Colombia.

    The Venezuelan government had said that it was closing three of its bridges on the border.

    Street vendors and people with suitcases walked along the street in the dark closely followed by dozens of soldiers.

    “What’s happening here is that the Armed Forces, by order of Padrino Lopez,Venezuelan Defence Minister, and Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro, have blocked the border, and do not let anyone pass,” explained Ronaldo Suarez, a street vendor selling coffee and cigarettes by the border.

    Venezuela’s opposition supporters demand to cross the border line between Colombia and Venezuela at Simon Bolivar bridge [Edgard Garrido/Reuters]

    Friday, February 22

    Venezuela, US discussing status of US diplomats: minister

    Venezuela and the United States are still in discussions about the status of US diplomats in Caracas ahead of next week’s deadline imposed by President Nicolas Maduro for them to leave, Venezuela’s foreign minister said on Friday.

    In a press briefing at the United Nations, Foreign Minister Jorge Arreaza said Venezuelan officials would meet with the U.S. special envoy for Venezuela, Elliott Abrams, to discuss the issue.

    Venezuela opposition leader Guaido arrives at Colombia aid concert

    Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaido arrived arm-in-arm with Colombian President Ivan Duque on Friday at a concert in Colombia that aims to raise $100 million for humanitarian aid for his country.

    UN chief appeals to Venezuela to avoid violence

    United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres “strongly appeals” for violence to be avoided in Venezuela, a UN spokesman said on Friday after the first bloodshed linked to efforts to bring aid into the country against the orders of embattled President Nicolas Maduro.

    “Any loss of life is regrettable,” UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric told reporters. “Looking ahead for tomorrow the secretary-general strongly appeals for violence to be avoided,” he added.

    Opposition leader Juan Guaido has vowed to bring in foreign aid from neighboring countries on Saturday and called on security forces to disobey Maduro and let supplies into the country suffering food and medicine shortages.

    Rival concerts become backdrop for Venezuela power struggle

    Dueling concerts will be the backdrop of the showdown between Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro and opposition leader and self-declared interim president Juan Guaido on Friday as the opposition prepares to bring aid across the Venezuela-Colombia border – a move Maduro has vowed to block.

    Billionaire Richard Branson will host a “Venezuelan Aid Live” concert on the Tienditas International bridge, which connects Venezuela and Colombia, while Maudro’s government plans to hold a three-day festival on the other side of the border.

    Read more

    Brazil sends plane with aid to Venezuelan border

    The Brazilian government is sending a plane load of supplies and humanitarian aid to its northern border with Venezuela on Friday.

    Although Venezuela’s President Nicolas Maduro officially closed the border between the two countries Thursday, the Brazilian air force plane loaded with food and medicine took off destined for Boa Vista, the main city in the northern state of Roraima.

    Authorities will then transport the goods by road three hours north to Pacaraima, the city that borders Venezuela.

    Maduro ‘constantly’ talks with Putin

    Venezuelan Deputy Foreign Minister Ivan Gil said at a meeting in the upper chamber of the Russian parliament on Friday that President Nicolas Maduro is “constantly in touch” with President Vladimir Putin on the phone.

    He thanked Russia for a recent shipment of medicine but reiterated the government stance that there is no humanitarian crisis in the South American country.

    Venezuelan troops kill one in first bloodshed over aid

    Venezuelan troops killed at least one person and wounded 12 others on Friday near the Brazilian border, witnesses said, the first bloodshed linked to opposition efforts to bring aid into the South American country against the wishes of embattled President Nicolas Maduro.

    Friday’s violence broke out as indigenous leaders in southern Venezuela said they had attempted to stop a military convoy heading toward the border with Brazil, believing the soldiers were attempting to block the entrance of foreign aid as per Maduro’s order.

    The convoy entered the indigenous village of Kumarakapay anyway, opening fire to clear the way and killing a woman, Zoraida Rodriguez, according to community leaders Richard Fernandez and Ricardo Delgado.

    “The result of this crime: 12 injured and one dead,” opposition leader Juan Guaido, who declared interim presidency, said on Twitter. “You must decide which side you are on in this definitive hour. To all the military: between today and tomorrow, you will define how you want to be remembered.”

    Thursday, February 21

    Volunteers vow to move aid into Venezuela 

    Representatives of Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaido held a news conference in the Colombian border city of Cucuta on Thursday, vowing to transport humanitarian aid into Venezuela.

    Tons of aid is currently stored in Cucuta, awaiting to enter into the other side of the border in Venezuela.
    Venezuelan nurses, doctors, engineers and homemakers are volunteering by the thousands to distribute the food and medicine in the face of a government ban.

    The citizen brigade is one of the most ambitious undertakings Venezuela’s opposition has attempted.

    “I am inviting you to turn the 29 municipalities of Tachira state into the border to all the bridges, to all the roads dressed in white,” Gaby Arellano, Venezuelan opposition member told journalists during the news conference in Cucuta.

    Russian, Venezuelan diplomats meet in Moscow

    A Russian deputy foreign minister has met with his Venezuelan counterpart as tensions rise in the South American country.

    Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov and Venezuela’s Ivan Gil met in Moscow in a session that the Russian Foreign Ministry said was held in a constructive atmosphere.

    “The Russian side expressed solidarity with the friendly people of Venezuela, firm support for the policy of its government aimed at preventing destabilisation in the country and supported the idea of holding a national dialogue to overcome the differences in Venezuelan society,” the ministry said in a statement.

    Maduro closes border with Brazil 

    Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro said the government was considering closing the border with Colombia and would close the border with Brazil ahead of opposition plans to bring in humanitarian aid despite his objection.

    In televised comments, Maduro said the stockpiling of aid for Venezuela in the Colombian border town of Cucuta was a “provocation”. He argues the opposition’s plans are a cheap show to undermine his government.

    Maduro said the government would close the border with Brazil on Thursday night after the Brazilian government pledged to also send aid in. 

    Venezuela’s President Nicolas Maduro said the government was considering closing the border with Colombia [Marcelo Garcia /AFP]

    Pence will meet with Lima group 

    US Vice President Mike Pence will fly to Bogota, Colombia on Monday to discuss the Venezuela crisis with leaders of the regional Lima Group of nations, his office said on Thursday.

    The United States and other members of the group have thrown their support behind opposition leader Juan Guaido and are trying to pressure President Nicolas Maduro to step aside to allow for new elections and the entry of aid.

    “The struggle in Venezuela is between dictatorship and democracy, and freedom has the momentum. Juan Guaido is the only legitimate leader of Venezuela, and it’s time for Nicolas Maduro to go,” Alyssa Farah, a spokeswoman for Pence, said in a statement

    Opposition leaders travel to Venezuela’s border 

    A caravan of opposition leaders is heading toward Venezuela’s border with Colombia ahead of a Saturday showdown over humanitarian aid.

    Lawmakers departed in three white buses from Caracas early Thursday.

    The opposition is vowing on Saturday to deliver large amounts of US-supplied aid warehoused in the Colombian border city of Cucuta. 

    Air France halts Caracas flights 

    Air France said it is suspending some flights to Caracas until Monday as the political crisis deepens with a standoff over foreign aid.

    An airline spokeswoman told AFP news agency late Wednesday that “certain flights had been halted over security concerns,” including direct flights between Paris and Caracas.

    Air France’s website, however, was on Thursday still offering flights to Caracas via Panama.

    Wednesday, February 20

    Guaido to head to Colombia border in a caravan: spokesman

    Guaido plans to head to the border with Colombia on Thursday to lead the attempt to bring in US aid in defiance of Maduro’s government.

    The opposition leader has set Saturday as the deadline for bringing in the aid stockpiled in Cucuta, Colombia.

    His press office said he will depart for the border in a caravan with fellow members of the opposition-controlled National Assembly.

    Although it was unclear what Guaido intends to do, he has enlisted hundreds of thousands of volunteers in recent days to help bring in and distribute the aid, forcing a showdown with Maduro.

    Venezuela closes maritime border with Dutch islands 

    Venezuela’s borders with Aruba, Curacao and Bonaire will remain closed for an indefinite period, Vice President Delcy Rodriguez, accompanied by Chancellor Jorge Arreaza, announced on Wednesday.

    Rodriguez also informed that on instructions from President Nicolas Maduro diplomatic relations with the Government of the Netherlands Antilles will be reviewed.

    The government made the decision after Curacao’s government said the island would help store aid destined for Venezuela.

    Venezuela’s borders with Aruba, Curacao and Bonaire will remain closed, Delcy Rodriguez said (File:Ricardo Mazalan/AP)

    Venezuelans brace for tense aid delivery bid

    Venezuelans are bracing nervously for possible weekend confrontations as Guaido vows to bring US aid into the country in defiance of Maduro’s government.

    In the latest maneuver of his standoff with the president, Guaido rallied bus drivers who he said will head to the borders to collect aid for Venezuelans suffering shortages.

    Private bus driver Jose Figueroa, 60, said he planned to leave Caracas in the coming days in a convoy of some 30 vehicles.

    “The situation is extremely tense,” he said, as drivers parked their buses and pick-up trucks at a rally in central Caracas.

    “But a bullet will kill you more quickly than hunger.”

    Opposition leader Juan Guaido attends a protest of the public transport sector against the government [Manaure Quinter/Reuters]


    Venezuela bans boats from leaving ports

    The Venezuelan military said it was banning vessels from sailing out of the country’s ports until Sunday, coinciding with an opposition bid to import shipments of US aid.

    “Departures of boats from all ports are to be suspended” for security reasons, said a military decree seen by AFP news agency.

    Colombia prepares for concert 

    The Colombian border city of Cucuta is preparing for a live concert over the weekend that aims to shed light on the humanitarian crisis in neighbouring Venezuela.

    Cucuta’s mayor Cesar Rojas Ayala said Cucuta is preparing with  strong police presence but does not expect a military confrontation.

    “We have available 1,500 men throughout all the corridors where the movement of vehicle of the personalities will be,” Ayala said.

    Switzerland says its president did not speak to Guaido

    Swiss President Ueli Maurer did not speak to Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaido about freezing Swiss bank accounts belonging to the South American nation, a foreign ministry spokesman said on Wednesday.

    “This information is not correct. There was no telephone contact between Guaido and President Maurer,” the spokesman said by email in response to an enquiry.

    He was not immediately available to elaborate.

    Guaido: We will go to the barracks

    Opposition leader Juan Guaido informed citizens that the mobilisation summoned for this Saturday will go to the military barracks to demand that humanitarian aid is allowed to enter the country.

    Guaido also sent a message to the military citizens and stressed that the entry of humanitarian aid is to serve citizens and “save lives.”

    Russia: Diplomacy ignored by US in Venezuela

    Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov accused the United States of “direct intervention” in Venezuela.

    He alleged the opposition, led by Juan Guaido, was guilty of “actively supporting and instigating this external interference”.

    “This is undoubtedly a direct violation of the UN charter and a direct intervention into the domestic affairs of an independent country,” said Lavrov of American actions.

    He added the US was ignoring diplomacy.

    Lavrov’s comments came as Russian news agencies reported a shipment of Russian medicine and medical equipment arrived in Venezuela.

    Security forces punish anti-Maduro protesters: Amnesty

    Venezuelan security forces have executed several people and arbitrarily detained hundreds of others in a campaign to punish people who protested President Nicolas Maduro, human rights group Amnesty International said.

    In a report titled Hunger, punishment and fear, the formula for repression in Venezuela, Amnesty said dozens died during five days of protests from January 21 to January 25, almost all from gunshot wounds, and 900 people were arrested.

    A supporter of Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaido holds a banner reading ‘freedom’ during a protest on January 30 [Carlos Garcia Rawlins/Reuters]

    Guaido trying to freeze accounts in Switzerland

    Opposition leader Juan Guaido said he spoke to the president of Switzerland to try to freeze banks accounts belonging to the tumultuous South American nation after “irregular movements” were discovered.

    “We are talking to the Swiss president,” Guaido said in an interview with Mexican network Televisa.

    Guaido said the Venezuelan government held bank accounts in Switzerland and irregular efforts to migrate part of those accounts to “another site” had been detected.

    Venezuela’s opposition leader Juan Guaido is trying to freeze banks accounts in Switzerland [RManaure Quintero/Reuters]

    Maritime border with Dutch Antilles reopened 

    Venezuelan authorities  reopened the country’s maritime border with the Dutch Antilles islands after closing it on Tuesday, a regional military commander told Reuters news agency.

    General Miguel Morales Miranda, second-in-command for the state of Falcon, did not give a reason for the change, which now allows boats and aircraft to travel between Venezuela and the islands of Aruba, Curacao and Bonaire.

    Tuesday, February 19

    Brazil to send aid to Venezuela together with US: spokesman

    Brazil will deliver humanitarian aid to the Venezuelan border by February 23 together with the United States at the request of Venezuela’s opposition leader Juan Guaidó, presidential spokesman General Otavio Rego Barros said on Tuesday.

    The distribution of aid from the northern Brazilian city of Boa Vista across the border in trucks driven by Venezuelan citizens will be organized by Guaidó, the spokesman said at a news conference.

    Venezuela closed its sea border with Curacao ahead of the aid operation, a military official said.

    Cuba denies Trump claim of troops in Venezuela: official

    Cuba rejected Tuesday the “despicable” accusation by US President Donald Trump that it has troops in Venezuela defending socialist leader Nicolas Maduro.

    On Monday, Trump claimed that Maduro was being “protected by a private army of Cuban soldiers.”

    “Let him show the evidence. Our government rejects this slander in the strongest and most categorical terms,” said Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez.

    Venezuela closes maritime border with Dutch Antilles: navy

    Venezuelan authorities have closed the maritime border with the Dutch Antilles, a regional navy chief told Reuters on Tuesday.

    The closure prevents boats and aircraft from arriving from the islands of Aruba, Curacao and Bonaire.

    Vice Admiral Quintero Martinez did not give a reason for the closure, though Venezuela’s opposition have said they plan to bring humanitarian aid into the country from Curacao on Saturday, which President Nicolas Maduro’s government has pledged to block.

    Pink Floyd’s Waters slams Venezuela border aid concert

    Pink Floyd co-founder Roger Waters slammed an upcoming “Live Aid”-style concert to raise funds for humanitarian aid for Venezuela, calling the event a US-backed effort to tarnish the socialist government.

    Billionaire Richard Branson is backing the Friday show in the Colombian border city of Cucuta with a fundraising target of $100m to provide food and medicine for Venezuelans suffering widespread shortages.

    “It has nothing to do with humanitarian aid at all,” the 75-year-old Waters said. “It has to do with Richard Branson … having bought the US saying, ‘We have decided to take over Venezuela, for whatever our reasons may be.'”

    Venezuelan troops to remain on border: minister

    Venezuela’s armed forces will remain stationed along the country’s borders to prevent potential territorial violations, Defence Minister Vladimir Padrino said.

    Padrino said Venezuelan officers and soldiers were “obedient and subordinate” to President Nicolas Maduro, who some 50 countries around the world no longer recognise as the legitimate head of state.

    Ousting Maduro over ‘our dead bodies’: minister

    Venezuelan Defence Minister Vladimir Padrino said on Tuesday the country’s opposition would have to pass over “our dead bodies” to oust President Nicolas Maduro and impose a new government.

    “Those that attempt to be president here in Venezuela … will have to pass over our dead bodies,” he said, in comments broadcast on state TV.

    Padrino was referring to opposition leader Juan Guaido, who has invoked the constitution to assume an interim presidency, denouncing Maduro as illegitimate.

    Monday, February 18

    Maduro defiant after Trump speech

    Shortly after a speech by Trump in Miami, during which he pleaded with Venezuela’s armed forces to support Guaido and warned of dire consequences for standing with Maduro, the Venezuelan president accused his US counterpart of trying to give orders to a foreign country’s military.

    “Who is the commander of the armed forces, Donald Trump from Miami?” Maduro said on Monday, in comments broadcast by state television.

    “Who is the constitutional commander-in-chief? They believe with their arrogance and their contempt for us. They believe they own the country and Donald Trump believes he has the power to give orders and that the National Bolivarian Armed Forces will carry out his orders.

    “It is an offence to dignity and to shame.”

    Maduro, who has vowed not to let US aid enter Venezuela, also said that 300 tonnes of assistance would soon arrive from Russia. He said Venezuela paid for the Russian goods and is not a country of beggars, lashing out at Trump for thinking he can force in unwanted aid.

    “They want to enslave us,” Maduro said. “That’s the truth.”

    Trump reiterates all options are possible in Venezuela

    Trump on Monday warned members of Venezuela’s military who support President Nicolas Maduro that they are risking their lives and urged them to allow aid into the country.

    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 harbour, no easy exit and no way out. You’ll lose everything.”

    He said he wanted a peaceful transition of power in Venezuela but that all options remained open.

    “I ask every member of the Maduro regime: End this nightmare of poverty, hunger and death. LET YOUR PEOPLE GO. Set your country free! Now is the time for all Venezuelan Patriots to act together, as one united people. Nothing could be better for the future of Venezuela!” he tweeted on Monday.

    Government to organise concert on February 23

    The Minister of Communication and Information of Venezuela Jorge Rodriguez, announced on Monday the realisation of a “concert for peace,” in the framework of Venezuela’s campaign “Hands off Venezuela,” the website Telesur reported.  

    The event will take place at the Simon Bolivar International Bridge, located in the Colombian-Venezuelan border on Friday and Saturday (February 22-23). According to local reports, it will count with the participation of numerous artists “in support of Venezuelan democracy. “

    Minister Rodriguez also announced a day of free medical attention for Colombian and Venezuelan citizens, which will be attended by pediatricians, internists, gastroenterologists and other specialists.

    On February 22, billionarie Richard Branson also announced a concert to “rally humanitarian aid for Venezuela.”

    According to Branson 300,000 people are expected to attend the concert.

    Branson said he has spoken to Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaido and hopes the concert will help break Maduro’s blockade so the aid can reach Venezuelans suffering from chronic shortages of food and medicine.

    Humanitarian aid for Venezuela is seen at a warehouse at the Tienditas cross-border bridge between Colombia and Venezuela in Cucuta [Luisa Gonzalez/Reuters]

    Trump to say Venezuela’s military at risk for supporting Maduro

    President Donald Trump will say in a speech on Monday that Venezuela’s military officials should “work toward democracy” or risk losing everything they have.

    “The United States knows where military officials and their families have money hidden throughout the world,” the White House said in describing what Trump planned to say.

    The White House issued points from a speech Trump was to deliver in the Miami area later in the day, saying the president will say the Venezuelan military should let humanitarian aid into the country.

    Sunday, February 17

    MEPs invited by Guaido ‘barred from entering Venezuela’

    A group of conservative members of the European Parliament say they have been refused entry to Venezuela, where they were invited by Guaido.

    “We are being expelled from Venezuela, our passports have been seized, they have not informed us of the reason for the expulsion,” said Spanish Member of the European Parliament (MEP) Esteban Gonzalez Pons, who led the group.

    The other politicians were his compatriots Jose Ignacio Salafranca and Gabriel Mato Adrover, as well as Esther de Lange of the Netherlands and Paulo Rangel of Portugal.

    All are members of the conservative European People’s Party (PPE).

    Rubio warns Maduro not to act against opposition

    Visiting the Colombia-Venezuela border, US Senator Marco Rubio declined to say if he would support US military action against Venezuela, warning Maduro of severe consuquences is he takes action against the opposition.

    “There are certain lines and Maduro knows what they are,” the Republican politician told CNN, saying he was confident that Washington would not stand by if the Venezuelan government harmed or imprisoned Guaido.

    “The consequences will be severe and they will be swift.”

    Guaido calls for ‘million volunteers’ in aid standoff

    Opposition leader Juan Guaido set a goal Sunday of enlisting a million volunteers within a week to confront a government blockade that has kept tons of humanitarian aid, most of it from the United States, from flowing into the country.

    Food supplies, hygiene kits and nutritional supplements have been stockpiled near the Venezuelan border in Cucuta, Colombia.

    Additional storage centers are supposed to open this week in Brazil and Curacao, a Dutch island off Venezuela’s northern Caribbean coast.

    “Our principal task is to reach a million volunteers by February 23,” Guaido said in a message to the 600,000 supporters who have signed up so far for the push to bring aid in.

    Police officers escort trucks as they arrive at a warehouse, where international humanitarian aid for Venezuela will be stored  [Carlos Ramirez/Reuters]

    Marco Rubio arrives to Cucuta 

    US Senator Marco Rubio has arrived at Colombian border town of Cucuta alongside the US ambassador to the Organization of the American States (OAS), Carlos Trujillo, and Congressman Mario Diaz-Balart.

    The Senator said he was traveling for a first-hand look at the aid operation in the border town. 

    The Florida Republican’s visit comes after a second US cargo of humanitarian aid arrived at the Colombian border on Saturday.

    More aid will arrive on Sunday, Rubio tweeted after he landed in Colombia. 

    Russia’s Gazprombank freezes accounts of PDVSA: Reuters 

    Russian lender Gazprombank has decided to freeze the accounts of Venezuelan state oil company PDVSA and halted transactions with the firm to reduce the risk of the bank falling under US sanctions, a Gazprombank source told Reuters on Sunday.

    While many foreign firms have been cutting their exposure to PDVSA since the sanctions were imposed, the fact that a lender closely aligned with the Russian state is following suit is significant because the Kremlin has been among Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro’s staunchest supporters.

    “PDVSA’s accounts are currently frozen. As you’ll understand, operations cannot be carried out,” the source said.

    Gazprombank did not reply to a Reuters request for a comment.

    Saturday, February 16 

    Planes land near border with aid 

    The US military airlifted tons of aid to a Colombian town on the Venezuelan border on Saturday as part of an effort meant to undermine socialist President Nicolas Maduro and back his rival to leadership of the South American nation.

    Two of three scheduled Air Force C-17 cargo planes that took off from Homestead Air Reserve Base in Florida had landed in Cucuta.

    “This wasn’t the first, and it won’t be the last,” said USAID Administrator Mark Green, standing on the tarmac in Cucuta at a ceremony to receive the aid. “More is on the way.” 

    A second US Air Force plane carrying humanitarian aid for Venezuela taxis after landing at Camilo Daza Airport in Cucuta [Edgard Garrido/Reuters]

    Nationwide protests

    Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaido on Saturday called for nationwide protests next week to support volunteers planning to travel to the border with Colombia to bring in US humanitarian aid.

    “Not only will this be happening at the border where the volunteer movement will be, but in cities up and down the country where there will be demonstrations on February 23 for the aid to come in,” Guaido told thousands of supporters at a public gathering.

    Translation: “Every day we are closer to February 23rd, the day the #Humanitarian Assistance will enter the country. The whole country calls on the military forces to take the side of the people, to let the #Humanitarian Assistance pass because this is also for them, for their families.”

    More aid to arrive in Colombia 

    US military transport planes carrying humanitarian aid meant for Venezuelans were set to land in the Colombian border city of Cucuta on Saturday, where food and medicine is being stored amidst uncertainty over how and where aid will be distributed.

    The shipment will be the second arrival of large-scale US and international aid for Venezuelans, many of whom have scant access to food and medicine.

    Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaido, speaks during a meeting with volunteers to coordinate humanitarian aid [Andres Martinez Casares/Reuters]

    Friday, February 15

    US to deliver 200 tonnes of aid to Venezuelan border: report

    The US military will transport some 200 tonnes of humanitarian aid to Colombia to help relieve the crisis in neighboring Venezuela, according to a report citing a US defence official on Friday.

    Speaking on condition of anonymity ahead of a formal announcement, the official said the aid would be sent in the coming days, most likely aboard a C-17 transport plane.

    In a statement, the Pentagon said the US “remains deeply concerned about the crisis in Venezuela that has consequences for the entire region.”

    Guaido asks Citibank to freeze gold swap with Maduro

    The team of Venezuela’s opposition leader Juan Guaido is asking Citibank not to claim gold that was put up as collateral for a loan to the government of President Nicolas Maduro in a swap expiring in March, lawmaker Angel Alvarado said on Friday.

    Investment bank and financial services company Citigroup, which owns Citibank, did not immediately respond to a request for comment from Reuters.

    US slaps sanctions on five Venezuelan officials close to Maduro

    The US Treasury announced on Friday that it was imposing sanctions on five intelligence and security officials close Nicolas Maduro.

    “Treasury continues to target officials who have helped the illegitimate Maduro regime repress the Venezuelan people,” a Treasury statement read.

    Those sanctioned include: Rafael Enrique Bastardo Mendoza, Manuel Ricardo Cristopher Figuera, Ivan Rafael Hernandez Dala, Manuel Salvador Quevedo Fernandez and Hildemaro Jose Rodriguez Mucura. Quevedo Fernandez is Venezuela’s oil minister.

    Maduro says US making ‘mistakes’ in Venezuela

    In an interview with Al Jazeera, Venezuela’s Maduro said the US is trying to destabilise his country and that efforts by the US-backed opposition to bring aid into the country are political theatre. 

    Maduro criticised European nations for supporting the possibility of US military intervention in his country citing their support of the 2003 US-led invasion of Iraq.

    “Was it necessary to intervene militarily in Iraq and divide it and kill millions of its people? I think they also made a mistake when they bombed Libya and killed more than 100,000 civilians. Can these errors be corrected? I also think they have also erred in a destructive policy approach in Syria, and are now making mistakes with Venezuela,” Maduro told Al Jazeera.

    China calls for diaglogue in Venezuela crisis

    China has called for dialogue in resolving the ongoing political upheaval in Venezuela.

    Geng Shuang, China’s Foreign Ministry spokesman, said that China, which backs Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro, will continue to promote exchanges with Venezuela in various fields.

    “Venezuela is an important economic and trade cooperation partner of China in Latin America,” Shuang said. “The two sides have also been in close cooperation on the principles of equality, mutual benefit, common development and commercial rules,” he added.

    Thursday, February 14

    Maduro invites US special envoy, reveals secret meetings

    President Nicolas Maduro has invited a US special envoy to come to Venezuela after revealing in an interview with The Associated Press news agency that his foreign minister recently held secret meetings with the US official in New York.

    The second of two meetings took place on February 11, four days after the envoy – Elliott Abrams – said the time for dialogue with Maduro’s government had long passed. 

    Even while criticising Trump’s confrontational stance toward his socialist government, Maduro said he holds out hope of meeting him to resolve an impasse over his recognition of Guaido.

    Maduro said that while in New York, his foreign minister invited Abrams to come to Venezuela “privately, publicly or secretly.”

    “If he wants to meet, just tell me when, where and how and I’ll be there,” Maduro told AP, without providing more details. He said both New York meetings lasted several hours.

    There was no immediate comment from Washington.

    Maduro said he would not give up power and called the US aid currently sitting on the border with Colombia mere “crumbs” following Washington’s move to freeze billions of dollars in Venezuela’s assets.

    He blamed the economic sanctions imposed by the US against Venezuela for the severe food and medicine shortages in his country.

    US violating UN charter principles, says Venezuela FM

    Venezuela’s Foreign Minister Jorge Arreaza has announced the formation of a group that believes the UN Charter’s commitment to non-interference in another country’s affairs is being violated, particularly in the South American nation.

    Arreaza was surrounded by diplomats from 16 countries including Russia, China, Iran, Syria, North Korea, Cuba and Nicaragua.

    He told reporters at UN headquarters in New York on Thursday there were many more supporters.

    Venezuela official calls US aid a ‘spectacle’

    Venezuela’s Foreign Minister Jorge Arreaza says that “the momentum of the coup that the government of the United States was promoting is over – it didn’t happen”.

    He told reporters at UN headquarters in New York on Thursday that the US needs to rethink its strategy because “the loyalty of our armed forces has already been proved”.

    Arreaza dismissed a February 23 deadline set by self-declared president Juan Guaido to bring badly needed food and medicine into Venezuela, saying the opposition leader doesn’t control a single policeman and “whatever he says is absolutely absurd”.

    He said President Nicolas Maduro controls the government and is the only one who can give deadlines. Maduro is blocking the aid, saying that Venezuelans are not beggars and that the move is part of a US-led coup.

    Arreaza called the assistance a “spectacle that the US is organising” and denounced US sanctions against Venezuela.

    “The US has blocked our economy,” he said. “The cost of this blockade is over $30bn – and they are sending this so-called humanitarian aid for $20m. So what is this? I’m choking you, I’m killing you, and then I’m giving you a cookie? So that’s a show.”

    Venezuela prosecutor to probe Guaido appointments

    Venezuela’s chief prosecutor says he’s launched an investigation into opposition leader Juan Guaido’s appointment of a transitional board of directors for the state oil company.

    Attorney General Tarek William Saab said Thursday in a news conference that Guaido’s appointments are part of an illegal power grab.

    Saab says he’s investigating the board members designated to oversee PDVSA and its Houston-based subsidiary Citgo. He calls the appointments by Guaido and the National Assembly a “circus.”
    Guaido has also appointed several ambassadors, including a representative to the United States.

    For all previous updates, click here. 


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