In Brief

Venezuela blockades bridge to stop aid

Embattled president Nicolas Maduro has rejected foreign aid amid economic crisis

Venezuelan troops have blockaded a bridge that connects the country to Colombia, in an apparent bid by President Nicolas Maduro to stop international humanitarian aid being delivered.

Two shipping containers and an oil tanker have been positioned on the Tienditas international bridge, near the Colombian city of Cucuta, which was one of three designated staging points for the delivery of aid.

The convoy, donated by the United States, left Bogota on Wednesday morning, and was due to cross the bridge later today.

The aid was organised by opposition leader and self-proclaimed interim president Juan Guaido, who called on the international community for help as Venezuela continues to sink into further economic collapse.

However, Maduro has “repeatedly denied his economically devastated country is facing a humanitarian crisis, apparently fearing such an acceptance could be used to justify foreign military intervention”, The Guardian says.

In a speech to his troops this week, Maduro insisted that Venezuela did not need any international help, saying: “We are not beggars.”

Reuters reports that the United Nations has issued a warning against “using aid as a pawn in Venezuela”. UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric told reporters in New York: “Humanitarian action needs to be independent of political, military or other objectives.”

The blockade comes just days after Maduro appeared to threaten Guaido with imprisonment.

John Bolton, Donald Trump’s national security adviser, has previously said that violence or intimidation of Guaido or other opposition leaders “would represent a grave assault on the rule of law and will be met with a significant response”.

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