UPDATED 6:24 AM PT — Friday, February 22, 2019
Venezuela’s Nicolas Maduro is proposing drastic measures in an attempt to block aid from entering the country. On Thursday, the embattled leader threatened to completely shut down the border with Brazil, and floated the idea of doing the same with Colombia.
“The land border with Brazil will be completely and absolutely closed until further notice,” he announced. “It is better to prevent than to regret, to take all the measures for the assurance and protection of our people.”
This comes as opposition lawmakers, including self-proclaimed interim President Juan Guaido, headed to the Colombian border in buses in order to bring back humanitarian aid. However, soldiers set up roadblocks and got in scuffles with the lawmakers, so only a few vehicles managed to get close to Colombia by the end of the day.
“Pretending that humanitarian aid is not going to reach Venezuela is an act of cruelty, we know that these soldiers are facing the same need as all the people of Venezuela — humanitarian aid comes in yes or yes,” stated Venezuelan lawmaker Delsa Solorzano.
Traffic was jammed along the border as troops tried to prevent people from crossing to bring back needed food and medicine.
“Look, this is just a taste of what happens everyday, and with violence. Nothing is achieved, we are victims of this on a daily basis.” — Jose Martinez, Venezuelan citizen
Maduro has continued to deny there is a humanitarian crisis at all, and has claimed aid efforts are just a front for the U.S. to invade the country. Protesters at the border are pushing for Maduro to let in the aid as the country faces shortages of food and medicine.
“Maduro wants to close the border, because he doesn’t want to recognize that Venezuela is in an economic crisis, a food crisis, of heath care, of medical attention — he does not want to recognize it.” — Frank Mendonca, Venezuelan citizen
The final showdown over humanitarian aid is set for Saturday after Guaido set the deadline for the government to let in the aid.