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24 Feb, 2019 00:19

Venezuela crisis: Border clashes, ‘masked thugs’, ‘torched aid’ & fake Red Cross

Venezuela crisis: Border clashes, ‘masked thugs’, ‘torched aid’ & fake Red Cross

The US-backed opposition’s call for a “human avalanche” to force American aid into Venezuela has erupted in violent clashes. Tensions were running high and the opposition soon claimed that government forces have killed civilians.

Self-proclaimed “interim president” Juan Guaido had called on his followers to create a “human wave” and bring the “avalanche” of humanitarian aid across the borders from Brazil and Colombia on Saturday. He’d crossed into Colombia unmolested the day before, to attend a concert extravaganza in support of regime change and organized by British mogul Richard Branson. Rather than lead the charge across the bridges himself, however, Guaido was nowhere to be seen on Saturday afternoon, RT correspondent Dan Cohen reported from Cucuta, Colombia.

Also on rt.com ‘Embrace democracy, Venezuela!’ Bolton threatens new sanctions, Pompeo vows ‘action’

Rocks, fire & tear gas

Opposition supporters clashed with Venezuelan border security forces in several hotspots on Saturday, pelting police officers with rocks and setting tires on fire. In one instance, protesters ripped up a tree and used it as a battering ram against Venezuelan police vehicles.

While the Tienditas bridge – featured in a lot of Western media reports about the tensions on the Venezuela-Colombia border, but never opened for traffic – remained calm, there were several incidents at the other two bridges in the area, and police had to use tear gas on several occasions.

Also on rt.com Horrifying VIDEOS show RAMMING at Simon Bolivar bridge in Venezuela

Another shocking incident happened at Simon Bolivar Bridge, where three apparent defectors who the government in Caracas called ‘terrorists,’ hijacked armored carrier vehicles and rammed through the border posts into Colombia, injuring several people with total disregard for civilian lives. With the military mostly maintaining loyalty to the Maduro government, only some 60 servicemen, including a number of officers, have defected so far – a rate that displeases both the opposition and officials in Washington.

Fake Red Cross & torched aid trucks

At least one truck attempting to get into Venezuela was set on fire, apparently before it could cross the border. Opposition activists circulated a photograph of the burning vehicle on the Francisco de Paula Santander bridge, though it was not clear who torched it and whether is was done deliberately or happened accidentally.

Also on rt.com FLAMES devour ‘aid truck’ during bridge stand-off on Venezuela-Colombia border (PHOTOS)

Meanwhile the world’s largest international aid organization has demanded that “unaffiliated” activists at the Venezuela-Colombia border not use their insignia, as it risks “jeopardizing our neutrality, impartiality & independence,” the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies said.

Also on rt.com Red Cross denounces unsanctioned use of its emblems to smuggle US aid to Venezuela

Armed ‘masked men’ & reports of casualties

With a lot of unconfirmed reports and videos circulating on social media, two people were reportedly killed in Santa Elena de Uairen, which is near the Venezuelan border with the Brazilian state of Roraima. One of the videos shows people being carried away after what were said to be clashes between security forces and Guaido supporters.

Another video was apparently filmed in San Antonio del Tachira, on the Venezuelan side of the border with Cucuta, Colombia, and shows a masked man holding what appears to be a pistol, and several shots ringing out as a distressed woman recording the scene cries out that “colectivos” were shooting people in the street – referring to supporters of the Venezuelan government that the US and the opposition have accused of extortion and political violence. 

The video ends with several still photos of masked men. RT has not yet been able to verify its authenticity.

US aid a ‘Trojan horse’ & ‘PR stunt’?

While the opposition claims that some of the US aid shipments have managed to enter the country, there has been no confirmation of this. Independent journalist Eva Golinger has warned that there is “lots of false news and videos circulating,” with the goal to “provoke violent confrontation as a means to justify intervention” – and opinion shared by other political experts RT spoke with.

Also on rt.com ‘PR stunt to justify intervention in Venezuela’: Experts slam US regime change ‘gangsterism’

Caracas has denounced the US aid shipments as a “trojan horse” intended to bolster Guaido and undermine its authority, pointing out that US sanctions and its trade blockade were the cause of Venezuela’s economic woes.

Also on rt.com ‘Duque is the devil in person’: Maduro breaks relations with neighbor Colombia, expels its diplomats

In response to the violence and provocations along the borders, Maduro cut diplomatic ties with the “fascist” Colombian government and addressed a rally in the capital, calling on the people to take to the streets to demonstrate their support for the country’s sovereignty – and show the military that they have the full support of the public.

Also on rt.com ‘We are defending our borders and freedom’: Maduro amid humanitarian aid tensions

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