Venezuelan military official drops allegiance to Maduro

Juan Guaido who has appointed himself interim president speaks to supporters in the Venezuelan capital Caracas.                     Image DPA  PA Images

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro has stated that he will not allow the delivery of American humanitarian aid to Venezuela, as the U.S. is thus trying to justify a military intervention, he told BBC in an interview on Tuesday.

Amaliexiz Mendoza, who lives in Cucuta with her 3-year-old daughter among the city's large Venezuelan exile community, said she would walk a thousand times to carry humanitarian aid to her countrymen.

United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has renewed his offer to help mediate "serious negotiations" between the elected government of Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro and opposition figure Juan Guaido, who has declared himself "interim president" of Venezuela.

Maduro has rejected humanitarian aid as a U.S. ploy to intervene in Venezuela, calling the deployment of aid a "political show" and blaming United States sanctions for the country's widespread shortages of food and medicine.

Guaido said it was a small-scale donation given that the government has so far blocked deliveries from an aid collection point in the Colombian border town of Cucuta.

Venezuela is in the midst of a disastrous economic crisis marked by hyperinflation, recession and dire shortages of food and medicines.

International Development Secretary Penny Mordaunt said: "I am deeply disturbed by the bad scenes of suffering in Venezuela as a result of the Maduro regime's reckless mismanagement, with families resorting to eating rotting food to try to survive".

Mr Maduro said USA sanctions for Venezuela's economic woes were created by the USA so they could justify a military intervention.

President Nicolas Maduro has vowed not to let the supplies pass, saying Venezuela isn't a nation of beggars.

Last week, Lester Toledo, Guaido's representative in the aid mission, suggested it could be moved by masses of people converging on the border to carry the food and medical supplies across.

Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaido, who many nations have recognized as the country's rightful interim ruler, is seen with students in Caracas, Venezuela February 11, 2019.

A colonel in the Venezuelan army has become the latest senior officer to renounce President Maduro's regime. To do so, he needs the support of the armed forces.

Venezuela's self-proclaimed president Juan Guaido gives the thumb up as he gets into a vehicle after a meeting with university students at the Central University of Venezuela, in Caracas, Venezuela, February 8, 2019.

The announcement earned immediate praise from US Ambassador to Israel David Friedman, who hailed the Jewish state for "standing with the people of Venezuela and the forces of freedom and democracy".

Guaido is counting on the amnesty law passed by Venezuela's parliament that guarantees soldiers impunity if they participate in the restoration of democratic order.

"We want everything to go as quickly as possible, but holding elections in a month is impossible".

Amoroso alleged Guaido has "received money from global entities without any type of justification".

Last week, he also rejected a call by European Union countries to hold elections, prompting them to recognize Guaido.

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