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Venezuela military barricades bridge in attempt to block aid

The Associated Press

This image taken from video, shows a fuel tanker, cargo trailers and makeshift fencing, blocking the Tienditas International Bridge in an attempt to stop humanitarian aid entering from Colombia, as seen from the outskirts of Cucuta, on Colombia’s border with Venezuela, Wednesday.

The Associated Press CUCUTA, Colombia (AP) — The Venezuelan military barricaded a bridge at a key border crossing with Colombia, issuing a challenge Wednesday to a U.S.-backed effort by the opposition to bring humanitarian aid into a nation plagued by shortages of food and medicine.

The Tienditas International Bridge was blocked the day before with a giant orange tanker, two large blue containers and makeshift fencing near the border town of Cucuta, Colombian officials said.

The bridge is at the same site where officials plan to store humanitarian aid that opposition leader Juan Guaido is vowing to deliver to Venezuela. The Trump administration has pledged $20 million in aid and Canada has promised another $53 million.

The aid squabble is the latest front in the battle between Guaido and President Nicolas Maduro, who is vowing not to let the supplies enter the country. Maduro argues Venezuela isn’t a nation of “beggars” and has long rejected receiving humanitarian assistance, equating it to a foreign intervention.

Venezuelan Jose Mendoza stood at the entrance to the Colombian side of the bridge holding a sign that said: “Humanitarian aid now.” Mendoza, 22, said he is tired of seeing Venezuelans suffer from food and medical shortages and that the military should stand on the side suffering Venezuelans.

“They have to be by the side of the people and support us,” Mendoza said. “They have family members who are dying of hunger. The call is for them too.”

Roughly 40 countries around the world have backed Guaido, who swore himself in as president in late January contending that as head of the opposition-led National Assembly he is Venezuela’s rightful leader because Maduro’s re-election last year was a sham.Speech

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