‘We are defending our borders and freedom’: Maduro amid humanitarian aid tensions
Maduro rejected the attempts by self-proclaimed interim president Juan Guaido to pressure border guards deployed to border crossings with Colombia to allow trucks in, calling the campaign an “attempted coup”. He called on the people of Venezuela to band behind his government.
“It is not a time of betrayal, it is a time of loyalty to the country and the supreme ideals of Venezuela,” he said.Also on rt.com Tensions flare at Venezuela-Colombia border amid aid row (VIDEO)
Maduro dismissed the defectors, saying what they did was for show, just like the entire situation on the border orchestrated by the US government.
He stated that Venezuela was within its rights to defend its borders and the freedom of its people from a "Washington regime-change operation".
Maduro speaking live in Caracas at a pro-government rally says he is waiting for Guaido to convene presidential elections. Says he 'formally challenges' him to convene elections'. #Venezuelahttps://t.co/Ucx2VaPgqi— Eva Golinger (@evagolinger) February 23, 2019
A deadline set by Guaido for the Venezuelan government to let in the American shipment expires on Saturday. Since morning there was high tension in the Venezuelan border town of Urena as well as at the Simon Bolivar bridge about 10 km away. Some clashes occurred between opposition activists and Venezuelan security forces, who used tear gas on several occasions.
#Colombia border security footages shows #Venezuela riot police firing tear gas at the Francisco de Paula Santander bridge forcing those trying to enter with humanitarian aid to retreat from the convoys. pic.twitter.com/HNsVIZd27c— Kejal પ્રવીણ Vyas (@kejalvyas) February 23, 2019
The opposition leader traveled to Colombia and is organizing a truck convoy, but so far has failed to force them through the police cordon.
The Maduro government sees the highly-publicized attempt to deliver the aid as a PR stunt to bolster the opposition and as a possible cover to smuggle arms to the opposition. Legitimate international humanitarian organizations like the Committee of the Red Cross refused to take part in the operation.
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