Venezuela's Guaido calls for nationwide protests to allow USA aid to enter

Humanitarian aid for Venezuela

REUTERS Luisa GonzalezUS to Increase Efforts to Bring Humanitarian Aid to Venezuela- Special Envoy Abrams

U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio visited a border staging point for U.S. aid to Venezuela on Sunday and warned soldiers loyal to socialist President Nicolas Maduro that it will be a "crime against humanity" if they block entry of the goods that are being channeled through Maduro's rivals.

Rubio, who has been an influential voice in advocating U.S measures against Maduro, noted that about 50 nations have declared Guaido the constitutional president of Venezuela, based on arguments that Maduro's re-election past year was fraudulent, and that other government-stacked institutions such as the supreme court have no legal authority.

Guaido's announcement came as tons of USA food aid was piling up along the border with Colombia, in the latest flashpoint in the country's building political crisis. "Unfortunately dictator Maduro has blocked this life-saving aid from entering the country".

Trump says he is asking every member of the Maduro regime to end this "nightmare" of poverty and death.

"We seek a peaceful transition of power, but all options are open", Trump said.

White House press secretary Sarah Sanders said Trump will reiterate his "strong support" for Guaido and make clear that Venezuela's "current path toward democracy is irreversible".

"The twilight hour of socialism has arrived in our hemisphere", Trump said. He blames any hunger in the country on USA restrictions and his domestic foes.

His words came amid reports the socialist dictator has been holding secret talks with the Trump administration, something not denied by USA officials.

The European Union (EU) must recognise Venezuelan Congress Leader, Juan Guaido, as the president of the South American country, U.S. Vice President, Mike Pence, said on Saturday.

Guaido, who is recognized by 50 countries as the interim president, accuses Maduro of causing economic hardship through mismanagement.

Quevedo said on Twitter the Venezuelan officials were being sanctioned for guaranteeing peace, building homes and condemning the "coup and military plan of the United States, its allies" and Guaido.

But so far few military officers have turned against Maduro.

John Bolton, Trump's national security adviser, indicated to reporters on Friday that many senior Venezuelan military officials have been "negotiating with the opposition".

But the new delivery of aid is just one of multiple problems Maduro is facing this week.

U.S. President Donald Trump speaks about the crisis in Venezuela during a visit to Florida International University in Miami, Florida, U.S., February 18, 2019.

President Nicolas Maduro hit out at the United States on Friday for "stealing" billions of dollars and offering "crumbs" in return as humanitarian aid, as Washington sanctioned five officials close to the Venezuelan leader.

Trump has also previously seized on the deteriorating situation in Venezuela as a political attack line, warning voters in hyperbolic terms that Democratic policies will turn the U.S. into Venezuela.

Venezuelans are demanding Mr Maduro stands down after years of hyperinflation have left the once rich Latin America impoverished.

Latest News