US in direct contact with Venezuelan military, urging defections

Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro attends a gathering in support of his government in Caracas
Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro attends a gathering in support of his government in Caracas
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10 February, 2019

Earlier this week, opposition leaders announced the coordinated shipments of baby formula, medical supplies, and food from the U.S., Colombia, and Venezuelans overseas.

Guaido says the May 2018 vote in which Maduro won a second term as president was a sham and on January 23 invoked a constitutional provision to declare himself president, promising free and fair elections.

A Venezuelan volunteer places a bag of USAID humanitarian aid for storage at a warehouse next to the Tienditas International Bridge, near Cucuta, Colombia, on the border with Venezuela, Friday, Feb. 8, 2019. "This is a macabre game, you see?"

"The United States has no excuse for its possible aggression against Venezuela", Maduro said.

"I am not only saying that Maduro is a threat to the maintenance of peace of the region", he said. He was referring to Trump's improvised 2018 aid distribution in the US territory following a hurricane, during which he threw rolls of paper towels.

Maduro's government has accused Guaido, who has galvanized Venezuela's opposition, of attempting to stage a US -directed coup.

He has dismissed Maduro as illegitimate over his reelection last May in polls branded a fraud by the US, EU and many Latin American countries.

Guadio is backed as the de facto leader by more than 40 nations, including the USA and major European powers, who want Maduro to step down. "Do not stop it", he said, appealing to members of the country's armed forces while speaking at a meeting with farmers in Caracas.

Guaido warned military officers against blocking the arrival of aid amid spiralling disease and malnutrition brought on by a hyperinflationary collapse.

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"There's an attempt to violate our national sovereignty with this "show" of a humanitarian operation by the government of Donald Trump", he said.

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

Guaido is trying to force Maduro from power, aiming to set up a transitional government and hold presidential elections.

While the 35-year-old has the support of powerful western nations, other global powers such as Russia, China and Turkey continue to back the Maduro regime and have denounced what they call foreign meddling in Venezuela's internal affairs. The sanctions freeze $7 billion in US -based assets and target $11 billion of USA revenue to Venezuela's national oil company.

"And there are a number of countries who are willing to accept him".

The EU-backed worldwide contact group on Venezuela in its inaugural meeting in the Uruguayan capital of Montevideo this week said overly forceful intervention could aggravate the crisis.

"You're deaf to the reality of a revolution with 20 years of democratic patrimony; you only follow the script written by the extreme right", he said.

The opposition, however, rejects any talks with Maduro, while officials in Washington claimed that the time for negotiations has long passed.


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