4 People reported slain on Venezuela-Brazil border

Venezuelan security forces stand guard at the border town of Ureña after Maduro´s government ordered to temporary close down the border with Colombia. Photograph:( AFP )

Agencia EFE Caracas, Capital District, Venezuela Feb 24, 2019, 03.11 PM (IST)

The Venezuelan Congress with its opposition majority reported this Saturday that by 4:00 pm, four people had been slain while more than 20 suffered bullet wounds on Venezuela's border with Brazil, as the arrival of truckloads of humanitarian aid, forbidden to enter the country by the Maduro government, stirred up conflict there.

"What happened on the border with Brazil wasn't ordinary repression...what occurred in the Venezuelan town of Santa Elena de Uairen was a massacre of the indigenous Pemon people, in which we know of four people killed and more than 20 with bullet wounds," lawmaker Juan Andres Mejia told a press conference.

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This came soon after the speaker of the Venezuelan National Assembly, Juan Guaido, who a month ago proclaimed himself interim president of the country, said that the first of two truckloads of humanitarian aid from Brazil had entered Venezuelan territory, despite the Nicolas Maduro government's order to close the border.

The triumph proved to be short-lived, however, when around 50 anti-Chavista demonstrators on the border began throwing Molotov cocktails and rocks at a checkpoint of the Bolivarian National Guard (GNB), Venezuela's militarized police. Considering the conflict, the two trucks loaded with humanitarian aid retreated some distance back into Brazil.

As for Colombia, the other nation preparing to send humanitarian aid to the beleaguered Caribbean country, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro announced Saturday that he is breaking off all political and diplomatic ties with the Colombian government, and gave Colombian officials 24 hours to get out of the country.

"My patience is exhausted, I can no longer bear it that the territory of Colombia lends itself to aggression against Venezuela, so I have decided to break off all political and diplomatic relations with the fascist government of Colombia," Maduro told the hundreds of his supporters who were out marching "in defense of the revolution."

He cried out that Colombian "ambassadors and consuls must leave Venezuela within 24 hours," and added, "oligarchy, get out...enough is enough."
Though Maduro has closed the borders with Brazil and Colombia to keep out the humanitarian aid, not all members of the Bolivarian National Guard and police forces can be relied on to do his bidding.

"Today more than 60 unarmed members of the military, including several officers, have sought refuge in Colombia, showing the loss of confidence in Maduro's usurper regime," Colombian Foreign Minister Carlos Holmes Trujillo told a press conference in Cucuta.

Meanwhile, opposition leader Juan Guaido expressed his gratitude this Saturday for the "backing of the international community" after two trucks loaded with humanitarian aid were set on fire on the Colombian border, and noted that this was a "crime against humanity."

Those two trucks loaded with humanitarian aid, ordered by the opposition, were burned Saturday by the Bolivarian National Police on the Venezuelan side of the Francisco de Paula Santander Bridge, which connects the country with Colombia, Venezuelan opposition lawmaker Gaby Arellano reported earlier.

In response, Guaido posted on his Twitter account that "we continue to receive the support of the international community, which has seen with its own eyes how the usurper regime violates the Geneva Convention, which clearly states that destroying humanitarian aid is a crime against humanity."

Guaido has been accepted as interim president by 50 nations including the United States and Brazil.

Brazilian Foreign Minister Ernesto Araujo said this Saturday in a statement to EFE that Maduro "has no real power...nor has he any moral power, the only power he has is brute force."

On Friday the "Venezuela Aid Live" concert was held in Cucuta with the participation of 30 local and international artists to hail the arrival of humanitarian aid, and at which Guaido made a key appearance a month after proclaiming himself the interim president of Venezuela.

Story highlights

This came soon after Juan Guaido said that the first of two truckloads of humanitarian aid from Brazil had entered Venezuelan territory, despite the Nicolas Maduro government's order to close the border.