Venezuela expels Europe lawmakers as aid showdown intensifies

Sen. Rubio, Rep. Diaz-Balart visit Venezuela-Colombia border

Guaido is the president of the National Assembly, a constitutional body that operates in parallel to the Constituent Assembly, a body Maduro established in 2017 for the goal of rewriting the Venezuelan Constitution.

Guaido was nearly immediately recognised by the United States and its allies after he proclaimed himself Venezuela's interim president on 23 January, with Trump then telling CBS that the USA military intervention in Venezuela remains "an option". Mr. Trump has used Venezuela as an example of what, in the administration's view, happens when a country turns to socialism.

Traditional aid groups have shunned the effort as a political ploy, but Guaido is counting on the US -backed initiative to persuade his country's military to recognize him, and to create an opening for desperately needed relief.

President Donald Trump is expected to urge Venezuelan military officials to back the country's self-declared interim president Juan Guaido and allow humanitarian aid to flow into Venezuela. He has announced that humanitarian aid will enter Venezuela on Saturday, the day after Branson's concert.

They have started to identify the most vulnerable and have begun caring for the needy in accordance with Mr Guaido's promises.

"And we're hoping that sense prevails and that the military allows the bridge to be open so that much-needed supplies can be sent across".

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The White House says Trump will make remarks at Florida International University, as his administration continues to speak out against Venezuela's socialist President Nicolas Maduro. The shipments have been meant in part to dramatize hyperinflation and shortages of food and medicine gripping Venezuela.

"Whoever prevents the entry of humanitarian aid is condemned to spend the rest of their lives fleeing global justice, because that is an worldwide crime", Mr Rubio said in Spanish.

On Friday, Maduro instructed his army to prepare a "special deployment plan" for the 2,200-kilometer (1,370-mile) border with Colombia.

Mr Maduro has dismissed the humanitarian assistance as "crumbs" and "rotten and contaminated food" while blaming shortages of food and medicine on USA sanctions.

Mr Guaido announced that British billionaire Richard Branson was organising a concert for February 22 in Cucuta with renowned worldwide artists to raise money for the relief effort.

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