Venezuela blocks border as Maduro tries to keep troops on side

Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro speaks during a special session of the National Constituent Assembly to present his annual state of the nation in Caracas Venezuela

Opposition leader Juan Guaido has declared himself interim president in Venezuela, a move recognized by several dozen countries, but Preside11:15 nt Nicolas Maduro is refusing to relinquish power.

The United States, along with allies Colombia and Brazil, are trying to bring aid into Venezuela, a move that Maduro says is a precursor to a U.S. invasion.

Major European countries have joined the United States in backing Guaido but they have stopped short of the sweeping oil sanctions and financial measures that Washington has imposed.

Maduro rejected, however, the EU-backed contact groups as biased, stating that the bloc is "deaf", as it would not listen to Venezuela.

Under Maduro's rule, Venezuela has endured one of the deepest economic collapses in recent history, with hyperinflation and ever-worsening shortages.

Guaido says the emergency shipment is a "test" for Venezuela's armed forces, which will have to choose if they allow the much needed aid to pass, or if they instead obey orders.

A few trucks of food and medicines are now blocked on the Colombian border.

Venezuelan migrants gathered there to see if they could receive some aid. "And there are a number of countries who are willing to accept him". "If it wasn't for the Cuban thugs that are there taking care of Maduro, Maduro would already be gone".

China is a close ally of Venezuelan president Nicolas Maduro, to whom it has lent billions to help shore up his embattled regime.

"He's got friends in places like Cuba and Russia", Abrams said. But the administration has stopped short of imposing so-called "secondary" sanctions, which would punish non-U.S. companies for doing business with the Venezuela government or the state oil monopoly PDVSA. They squeeze us by the neck and then make us beg for crumbs'.

"Dear military personnel, this aid is also for you. here comes food for your children, here comes medicine for the people who are suffering", he said.

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"We're going to open a humanitarian corridor and the doors to freedom", he told journalists.

According to Rodriguez's reconstruction of the facts, Borges and other opposition leaders, with the help of the Central Intelligence Agency, were organizing a military uprising in Caracas that was discovered and blocked by Venezuelan security forces on January 21.

Guaido is trying to force Maduro from power, aiming to set up a transitional government and hold presidential elections. He argues Maduro was re-elected a year ago in a sham election.

Guaido, who heads the opposition-led National Assembly, declared himself Venezuela's legitimate ruler on January 23.

In the letter, Maduro denounces US President Donald Trump's aggressive statements against him - in which he has branded Maduro an illegitimate dictator, as well as hinting at military intervention.

Turning his ire on the Contact Group, Maduro aimed a message at the European Union.

Asked what would happen if the Venezuelan military blocks the aid from going in, Whitaker said any obstacles would be dealt with as they arise and reiterated that Trump has made clear nothing is off the table - though, he added, the priority is to arrange a broad global mission.

Critics accuse Maduro, Chavez's hand-picked successor, of unfairly winning an election last year for a second six-year term by banning his popular rivals from running.

"The body has usurped numerous constitutional powers of the legitimate National Assembly and embodies Maduro's destruction of democratic institutions", Abrams told reporters.

The opposition-controlled legislature has been powerless since 2016 after it was stripped of its powers by the Supreme Court, made up of regime loyalists.

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