Venezuela convoy heads to Colombia border as Maduro threatens to close it

Maduro has ordered a shipment of thousands of food boxes to be distributed to Venezuelans along the Colombian border.

Maduro has scheduled a competing benefit concert for Friday and said aid will be given to Colombians and Venezuelans at the same time in the border region.

Pence will travel to Colombia on February 25 to reiterate the American government's support for National Assembly President Juan Guaidó, which the US and dozens of countries have recognized as Venezuela's interim president.

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro announced Thursday he is closing the border with Brazil and is considering doing the same on the border with Colombia over attempts to deliver humanitarian aid to the country.

Embattled Maduro has dismissed Guaido's humanitarian caravan as a "cheap show" and insisted aid is a precursor for a U.S. military intervention in the oil-rich but economically crippled Latin American country.

Guaido, recognised as the interim leader by 50 countries, was himself heading to the Colombian border today with his supporters to try to collect aid being stockpiled there.

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And the military said in a decree that it was banning vessels from sailing out of Venezuela's ports until Sunday to avoid actions by "criminal" groups.

Guaido has said aid distribution is Venezuela's chief priority.

Appearing on television, Maduro said there is no crisis in the country and that US attempts to deliver aid to Venezuela are orchestrated to undermine his administration.

Maduro made the announcement on state TV, surrounded by military commanders before opposition leaders led by Juan Guaido vowed to bring in USA supplies of emergency food and medicine over the socialist president's objections. The member nations were among the first to side with Guaido.

During the one-day visit, Pence will address the Lima Group of Latin American countries and Canada, formed in 2017 to seek a peaceful resolution to the Venezuela crisis.

Meanwhile, hundreds of state bus drivers rallied in the red shirts of the pro-government "Chavismo" movement, in a gathering convened by the authorities. Caracas would not allow such aid into the country, Maduro said, saying the country was coping with its difficulties and that USA "concerns" over Venezuela's humanitarian crisis were "fabricated by Washington over the last four years to justify intervening in our country".

  • Sonia Alvarado