CARACAS: Opposition leader Juan Guaido, recognized by some 50 countries as Venezuela’s interim president, warned the military Sunday that blocking humanitarian aid from entering the country is a “crime against humanity”, reports AFP.
The warning comes as international aid has taken center stage in a test of wills between Guaido and President Nicolas Maduro in which Venezuela’s armed forces are seen as the pivotal player.Medicine and food sent by the United States has been blocked for three days on the border in Cucuta, Colombia after Venezuelan soldiers closed a bridge linking the two countries.
On the Venezuelan side of the border, dozens of doctors protested Sunday demanding the aid be allowed in—including surgeon Jose Luis Mateus de la Riva, who accused Maduro of sinking Venezuelan medicine back to the “medieval era.”
“There are people responsible for this and the regime should know it,” Guaido said after attending Sunday mass with his wife and 20-month-old baby. “This a crime against humanity, men of the armed forces.”
Accusing those blocking aid of being “almost genocidal,” he likewise warned that the military would be held responsible for the deaths of protesters—and reaffirmed his call for a mass march on Tuesday in memory of the estimated 40 people killed in disturbances since January 21. Guaido has offered amnesty for any members of the armed forces who disavows Maduro—but the military leadership still publicly backs the president.
On Sunday, the Venezuelan military announced it had started conducting exercises, set to run until February 15 across the country, to “reinforce the country’s defensive capacity.” Maduro has rejected humanitarian aid as a US ploy to intervene in Venezuela, calling the deployment of aid a “political show” and blaming US sanctions for the country’s widespread shortages of food and medicine.