Venezuela's Guaido won't rule out authorising US intervention

REUTERS  Marco Bello

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.

"Venezuela is not suffering the humanitarian crisis fabricated by Washington over the last four years to justify intervening in our country".

He said the aid should be given to the poor in the Colombian city of Cucuta, where the supplies are being stockpiled.

"The principle battlefront at the moment is over humanitarian aid". "We know that there is a blockade in Tienditas (on the border with Colombia)".

"We reject the partisan and ideological nature of the document", Maduro said on Friday, adding that he would always welcome dialog with anyone.

Guaido proclaimed himself Venezuela's interim president on January 23.

Russia, Belarus, Bolivia, Iran, China, Cuba, Nicaragua, El Salvador, Syria and Turkey stood up for Maduro's support.

Venezuela's vice minister of citizen security said the weapons shipment was "destined for criminal groups and terrorist actions in the country, financed by the fascist extreme right and the government of the United States". But the administration has stopped short of imposing so-called "secondary" sanctions, which would punish non-U.S. companies for doing business with the Venezuela government or the state oil monopoly PDVSA. They squeeze us by the neck and then make us beg for crumbs'.

Opposition leader Jose Manuel Olivares, who is in Cucuta helping coordinate the aid mission, said the idea floated by Toledo to use a mass mobilization of people to get the aid across the border is one of the strategies being considered.

It was not immediately clear how the humanitarian aid would be delivered across the border.

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"We're going to open a humanitarian corridor and the doors to freedom", he told journalists.

Guaido warned military officers against blocking the arrival of aid amid spiralling disease and malnutrition brought on by a hyperinflationary collapse. "It tries to cover up what is the biggest crime committed, the crime of stealing resources through the blockade and the sanctions of the United States government on Venezuela".

National Assembly leader Guaido told AFP he would do "everything that is necessary.to save human lives", acknowledging that United States intervention is "a very controversial subject".

"Take all that humanitarian aid and give it to the people of Cucuta, where there is a lot of need", Maduro said.

He claims that as head of the opposition-led National Assembly he is Venezuela's rightful leader because Maduro's re-election a year ago was a sham.

The U.S. has revoked visas for members of Venezuela's Constituent Assembly amid an ongoing push to ramp up pressure on Caracas, the special envoy for Venezuela said Thursday.

Maduro, who last weekend rejected an European Union ultimatum to organize snap presidential elections, said he would welcome the mission.

It also told the socialist leader to "restore full democracy, the rule of law, the separation of powers and respect for the constitutional mandate of the country's institutions, particularly the democratically elected National Assembly".

The opposition-controlled legislature has been powerless since 2016 after it was stripped of its powers by the Supreme Court, made up of regime loyalists.

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