Venezuela has partially closed the border crossings to Colombia ahead of the opposition’s plans to bring US relief supplies into the country.
Vice President Delcy Rodriguez writes on Twitter that the government of Venezuela has ordered a temporary closure of three border crossings in the state of Táchira because of “serious and illegal threats to peace and independence in Venezuela from the Colombian side”.
It is in these areas the opposition with leader Juan Guaido at the forefront has received food and medicines in tons the last time from the Trump administration. He left Caracas on Wednesday to the border town of Cúcuta in Colombia to get the aid missions over the strictly guarded border, then to distribute them in Venezuela. He will have traveled with a car card with several vehicles and other members of the elected national assembly.
Friday, he appeared surprisingly at the star-studded “Live Aid Venezuela” concert where thousands of Venezuelans were also present on the Colombian side of the border. Guaido, who is actually banned from the Venezuelan Supreme Court, claimed he had been assisted by military personnel to cross the border.
A few hours later, the message came that Venezuela was partially closing the border.
Many fear the clash between the military and the opposition this weekend, when it is announced that hundreds of thousands of volunteers supporting the opposition will attempt to get relief supplies into Venezuela from multiple sources. The Caribbean island state of Curaçao on Friday refused the opposition supporters to load food and medicines aboard a ship that was going to Venezuela by sea. The authorities in Curaçao pointed out that they obviously want to help people in Venezuela, but that they cannot leave ships off the quay without knowing that it has a safe haven to call.
Friday, Venezuela’s Foreign Minister Jorge Arreaza in New York met with Secretary General António Guterres of the United Nations. Arreaza was also in the face of UN country broadcasters supporting President Nicolás Maduro’s regime, including Iran, Russia, Bolivia, Syria and North Korea.
Guterres asks Venezuela to refrain from using lethal force against protesters and says the UN will continue to work with Venezuela to help residents in need.
Foreign Minister Arreaza assured the press that the Venezuelan military “will never be ordered to shoot against the civilian population” and that “they are there to defend Venezuelan territory against any armed attack against our country”.
However, civilian casualties have already been reported after two people were killed and at least 15 wounded in clashes between villagers and government soldiers on Friday, according to the Kape Kape human rights group. Members of an indigenous group will have attacked a military column that attempted to pass a roadblock at the village of Kumarakapai, in the state of Bolivar near the border with Brazil. The soldiers opened fire with rubber-clad steel balls and used tear gas during the collision.
The White House has condemned the actions.