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24 February 2019, 12:44 | Tara Lloyd
12:27 Ivan Duke in Cucuta in Attack Plan against Venezuela
Mr Maduro also said the relief aid would not be allowed into Venezuela, adding U.S. "concerns" over Venezuela's humanitarian crisis had been "fabricated by Washington over the last four years to justify intervening in our country".
Mr Maduro has declared Venezuela's southern border with Brazil closed and threatened to do the same with the Colombian border ahead of a Saturday deadline set by the Opposition to bring in humanitarian assistance.
Juan Guaido, the self-proclaimed interim president who is recognised by most Western nations as Venezuela's legitimate head of state, defied court orders not to leave Venezuela by arriving on Friday in the Colombian border city of Cucuta, where aid from the US and Colombian governments is stockpiled in warehouses.
"We were all going to work, we want to work, the people attempted to force through", said Viviana Meza, 29, who works in a Cucuta restaurant.
To reach the concert, dozens of people in the town of Palotal hiked through an unmarked trail between high bushes to sneak into the border with Colombia.
Separately, the administrator of the U.S. development agency USAID, Mark Green, tweeted last week that he had visited Curacao and discussed possible cooperation with the island to channel official United States aid to Venezuela.
Reuters, citing Colombia's migration agency, reported three Venezuelan National Guard members deserted their posts early Saturday before the effort to bring aid into Venezuela began. Guaido wrote on Twitter Saturday. But President Nicolas Maduro, who has resisted pressure to resign, regards the aid as a United States plot to topple him, and does not want to let it in.
Venezuelan soldiers may bar the way.
Depending on what happens on Venezuela's borders over the weekend, the leaders could dramatically boost aid pledges to the country - or take new steps to crack down, the official told reporters.
National Guard troops man a barricade blocking access to the Francisco De Paula Santander worldwide bridge in Urena, Venezuela, on the border with Colombia, Feb. 23, 2019.
Vice President Delcy Rodriguez said in a tweet late on Friday that Venezuela's government shut the Tachira border that connects it with Cucuta temporarily "due to a series of illegal threats" by Colombia.
USA sanctions on the oil industry, Venezuela's only real source of hard currency, threaten further suffering in a nation wracked by hyperinflation and hunger.
Some political analysts say the looming showdown is less about solving Venezuela's needs and more about testing the military's loyalty to Maduro by daring it to turn the aid away.With inflation running at more than 2 million percent a year and currency controls restricting imports of basic goods, a growing share of the country's roughly 30 million people is suffering from malnutrition. "Please join this struggle, get on the right side of history, allow the humanitarian aid to enter".
"For that reason, I have chose to break all political and diplomatic relations with Colombia's fascist government", he told cheering supporters.
There have already been skirmishes between protesters and the security forces tasked with keeping the aid out.
Guaido delivered a blow to Maduro as he turned up unexpectedly at the concert in the Colombian border town of Cucuta, claiming "the armed forces participated in this process" to help him flout his travel ban.
On Friday, at least two civilians died in Venezuela and about a dozen more were injured in a confrontation with security forces near the national border with Brazil.
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