US military planes carrying Venezuela aid arrive in Colombia

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  • Sun, 02/17/2019 - 20:25
US military planes carrying Venezuela aid arrive in Colombia
  • EFE

Three United States C-17 military planes landed in the Colombian city of Cúcuta Saturday with the latest shipment of humanitarian aid for Venezuela.

The aid is being stockpiled on the Colombian side of the Venezuelan border at the request of self-declared interim president and opposition leader Juan Guiado.

“Three planes from the United States came to Cúcuta today with humanitarian aid for more than 25,000 Venezuelans,” Guiado said on Twitter.

President Nicolas Maduro alleges the aid is a pretext for US invasion and denies the existence of a humanitarian crisis.

The military aircraft, which have the capacity to each transport up to 77.5 tons of cargo, departed from the Homestead Air Reserve Base in Florida and landed at Cúcuta’s Camilo Daza International Airport Saturday afternoon.

On the tarmac, United States Agency for International Development (USAID) administrator Mark Green said the delivery “comes at the request of Interim President Juan Guaidó and in coordination with the Government of Colombia.”

“We are here because this is now a regional crisis. Today, we are standing on the front lines of one of the largest displacements of people in the history of Latin America,” Green said as workers unloaded boxes under the relentless sun.

“Regrettably, the crisis Venezuelans are fleeing is man-made and regime-driven. It is the result of continued political mismanagement and corruption by Maduro. As long as the Maduro regime and his cronies plague Venezuela with economic mismanagement and corruption, we all know this humanitarian crisis will continue,” he added.

Green said the shipment will “not be the last” for the people of Venezuela. Last week the first shipment of aid was delivered in Cúcuta and on Friday the Colombian authorities received 2.5 tons donated by the government of Puerto Rico.

USAID is preparing additional supplies to arrive in the coming days, according to the US embassy in Colombia.

Once unloaded, the aid was transferred to a warehouse located on the Colombian side of the international Tienditas Bridge - which remains blocked by shipping containers - from where it is hoped to be taken to Venezuela.

Cúcuta, along with Curaçao and the Brazilian state of Roraima, are the collection points for humanitarian aid, which Guaido said last week will enter Venezuela on Feb. 23.

When asked by journalists about how assistance will get into their country, given Maduro’s rejection of foreign aid, Guiado’s representative Lester Toledo did not want to give details of the operation, but said "whatever happens, happens."

According to Toledo, the assistance is “becoming an unstoppable tsunami of humanitarian aid" because other countries will soon announce that they are joining the initiative led by the US and Colombia.

Green said the nutrition products and hygiene supplies add to the relief provided last week.

"The United States will also continue to stand in solidarity with Interim President Guaido and those in Venezuela who seek a government that represents their interests and is responsive to their needs," Green said.

The official also sent a message to Guaido: "We proudly stand with you and the people of Venezuela who are yearning for freedom and a true democracy. We call on Venezuelan security forces to let this life-saving aid in immediately.”


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