International pressure yesterday mounted against Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro, with Washington vowing to “take action” after opposition efforts to bring humanitarian aid into the country descended into bloody chaos.
Venezuela’s self-declared interim president, National Assembly President Juan Guaido, called on the international community to consider “all measures to free” his nation after clashes at the border crossing left at least two people dead.
Guaido announced he would participate in a meeting today of the Lima Group in Bogota, and called on the international community to be prepared for “all possibilities” regarding Maduro.
US Vice President Mike Pence is to represent Washington at the meeting.
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said the US “will take action” as he condemned violence perpetrated by Maduro’s “thugs.”
US President Donald Trump has said that Washington is not ruling out armed action.
Humanitarian aid, much of it from the US has become the centerpiece of the standoff between Maduro and Guaido.
Maduro claims the aid is a smokescreen for a US invasion, and has ordered several crossings on the borders with Colombia and Brazil closed.
Two people, including a 14-year-old boy, were killed on Saturday in clashes with Venezuelan security forces that left more than 300 people wounded at border posts.
Guaido had set a Saturday deadline for delivering food and medical aid stockpiled in Colombia and Brazil.
Hundreds of Venezuelans, many dressed in white, were frustrated in their attempts to collect the aid at the Colombian border, where they were pinned back by Maduro’s security forces.
Trucks with aid were prevented from entering the country, and force was used to keep out Venezuelans trying to cross in from Colombia carrying aid parcels.
Colombia ordered aid trucks to return from the border after the violence.
A ship with aid from Puerto Rico was forced to turn back after receiving a “direct threat of fire” from Venezuela’s military, Puero Rican Governor Ricardo Rossello said.
He called the move “unacceptable and outrageous.”
Canada, a Lima Group member, called on Maduro to allow “safe and unrestricted access” for the aid, and said it was “deeply concerned” by the violence “allegedly perpetrated by the Maduro regime” aimed at blocking the entry of aid.
These attacks are “simply unacceptable,” read a statement on Saturday signed by the Canadian ministers of foreign affairs and international development.
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