Venezuela: Socialist dictator burns food and medicine for his starving state – 2 killed in border clashes
Venezuelan dictator Nicolas Maduro broke diplomatic relations today with Colombia as tensions escalated along the two countries’ borders over US aid into the starving socialist state.
An emergency doctor says two protesters have been killed and another 18 have been injured during clashes between soldiers and residents of the southeastern Venezuelan town of Santa Elena de Uairen, near the border with Brazil.
The Venezuelan National Guard fired tear gas and rubber bullets at protesters near the Colombian border, while the opposition began to usher aid into the troubled country in defiance of Maduro.
The protesters chanted, “We want to work!” as National Guard fired tear gas to disperse them.
Four members of Venezuela’s National Guard deserted their posts and solicited help from Colombia.
By midday, opposition leader and self-declared interim president Juan Guaido pulled himself on to a truck and shook hands with its driver as he and Colombian President Ivan Duque gave a ceremonial send off to an aid convoy.
The convoy wanted to transport nearly 200 metric tons of mostly US-supplied emergency food and medical supplies from the Colombian city of Cucuta.
The opposition called on masses of Venezuelans to form a ‘humanitarian avalanche’ to escort trucks carrying the aid across several border bridges.
Juan Guaido is due to join the efforts, telling Venezuelan soldiers blocking the aid: “Our call to the armed forces couldn’t be clearer: put yourself on the right side of history.”
Venezuelans rushed to rescue boxes of emergency food and medicine from burning trucks stalled on a bridge to Colombia.
A large black cloud hung over the Francisco de Paula Santander bridge as protesters passed the boxes by hand and removed them from the blazing vehicles.
US President Donald Trump’s national security adviser John Bolton canceled 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.
‘To Maduro’s military cronies attacking civilians at the Brazilian border – the world is watching and the perpetrators will face justice,’ Bolton wrote on Twitter. ‘The Venezuelan military should protect civilians, not shoot them.
Concerns about the potential for violence flared on Friday when the Venezuelan army opened fire in a village near the Brazilian border after indigenous leaders attempted to prevent them from advancing, killing a woman and her husband.
The US government condemned the killings.
The US envoy for Venezuela, Elliott Abrams, who traveled to Cucuta on Friday, called them ‘a crime and a disgrace’, while the US State Department said ‘egregious violation of human rights by Maduro and those who are following his orders will not go unpunished.’