Venezuela's National Guard has fired a tear gas on residents clearing a barricaded border bridge between Venezuela and Colombia to let humanitarian aid pass through. (Feb. 23)
CUCUTA, Colombia – Venezuela's National Guard fired on gas on residing in Colombia on Saturday, as the opposition started making good on its high-risk plan to deliver humanitarian aid to Venezuela President Nicolas Maduro.
By midday, opposition leader Juan Guaido pulled himself down to a semitruck and shook hands with his driver as he and Colombian president Ivan Duque gave a ceremonial 200 metric tons of mostly US-supplied emergency food and medical supplies from the Colombian border city of Cucuta.
"Our call to the armed forces could not be clearer: put yourself on the right side of history," he said in an appeal to troops who constitute Maduro's last-remaining major plank of support in a country ravaged by hyperinflation and widespread shortages.
The opposition is calling on masses of Venezuelans to form a "hu Manitarian avalanche "A woman with a national flag waits on the side of a"
But clashes started at dawn in the Venezuelan border town of Urena, when residents began removing the metal barricades and barbed wire blocking the Francisco de Paula Santander bridge , Venezuela's National Guard responded forcefully, firing tear gas and buckshot on the protesters, some of them masked youth throwing rocks,
Later, the youth commandeered a city bus and set it afire. Venezuela's government and opposition comes one day after Guaido, a 35-year-old lawmaker, has declared himself interim.
President based on a controversial reading of the constitution. Maduro is crucial.
"We're tired. There's no work, nothing, "Andreina Montanez, 31, said she was recovering from the stinking of gas.
A single mom said she's lost her job as a seamstress in December 10-year-old daughter's fears that she was left orphaned when she decided to join Saturday's protest.
"I told her I had to go out on the streets because there's no bread," she said. "But still, these soldiers are scary. It's like they're hunting us. "
At the Simon Bolivar Bridge, a group of volunteers in blue vests calmly walking up to a police line and shaking off officers' hands, appealing for them to join their fight.
At the same post, four National Guardsmen deserted the force early in the day and took refuge in Colombia.
The Colombian authorities shows three of them wading through a crowd with their assault rifles and pistols held together in a sign of surrender.
"I've spent a few days thinking about this," said one of the soldiers, whose identity was not immediately known ,
Maduro was crumbling.
"They are not deserters," he said on Twitter.
International leaders including U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres are appealing for the side to avoid violence.
But on Friday, a member of an indigenous tribe was killed and 22 others injured in clashes with security forces who enforced Maduro's orders to keep the aid out at a crossing with Brazil.
In previous waves of unrest, citizens have been tear-gassed and killed.
Venezuelan Foreign Minister Jorge Arreaza said the military would "never have ordered fire on the civilian population" and likened the aid to push a media spectacle
"We can only hope that sanctity and good sense prevails in Cucuta, in Colombia, and that they will stay as big as a show, a big party, and that they will not try to open the doors to a military intervention, "he said Friday at UN Headquarters in New York.
British Billionaire Richard Branson Aimed at Pressuring Maduro to Accept the Aid. Juanes sing underneath a scorching sun. Tens of thousands of Venezuelans. Guaido made a surprise appearance toward the end.
The opposition is planning to hold three simultaneous aid pushes on Saturday. Venezuela's remote border with Brazil, which is the government of Maduro has ordered closed.
Amid the sometimes chaotic and hard-to-verify flow of information , opposition lawmakers and Guaido said: "In the first shipment of humanitarian aid had crossed into Venezuela from Brazil."
Dueling demonstrations also took place in the capital. Government opponents, one of them dressed like Captain America in a nod to the Trump administration's prominent role cornering Maduro, headed toward an air base.
Venezuela's military has served as the traditional arbiter of political disputes in the South American country, and recent leaders have pledged their unwavering loyalty to Maduro.
Maduro lets the aid in or not,
Opposition leaders are pushing forward in the belief that he wants to come out weakened.
Analysts warned that there are no clear victor and humanitarian groups have criticized the opposition as using the aid as a political weapon.
"I do not know that anyone can give it a break, and it's quite Eric Farnsworth of the Council of the Americas Society, a Washington-based think tank.
Fearful of what they might encounter, some Venezuelans in Cucuta said they planned to stay away from the
"For my son, I'd risk everything," said Oscar Herrera, 25, a Venezuelan man who took an 18-hour bus ride to Colombia to buy his infant medicine for a skin irritation earlier this week
Hernan Parcia, 32, a father of three, said he was planning his entire family.
"I'm pained by what's happening to my country," he said. "They can count on me."
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