In face of alleged threats, Maduro government 'completely' shuts Venezuela's border with Colombia

Agencia EFE Caracas, Capital District, Venezuela Feb 23, 2019, 02.23 PM(IST)

File photo of Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro. Photograph:( Reuters )

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The step was taken hours after Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered communications to be shut off with Aruba, Bonaire and Curaçao islands and closed the border with Brazil, to stop the entry of humanitarian aid amassed there.

The Venezuelan government completely closed its border with Colombia in the face of alleged threats to its sovereignty from the neighboring country, from where the opposition plans to take in humanitarian aid from several countries that is currently stored in Cucuta city, the authorities said.

The step was taken hours after Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered communications to be shut off with Aruba, Bonaire and Curaçao islands and closed the border with Brazil, to stop the entry of humanitarian aid amassed there.

"The government informs the people that, due to the serious and illegal threats attempted by the Government of Colombia against the peace and sovereignty of Venezuela, it has taken the decision of a temporary total closure of the Simon Bolivar, Santander and Union bridges!" Vice President Delcy Rodriguez tweeted.

She said that the Colombian government of Ivan Duque is acting against the rights of Venezuelans to live in peace and sovereignty at the orders of the President of the United States, Donald Trump.

She added that the border normality will be restored as soon as the gross acts of violence - which Caracas has alleged were generated from Bogota - is controlled.

The shutdown was expected after Maduro said on Thursday that closing the Venezuelan border with Colombia was being contemplated, where billionaire Richard Branson has organized a solidarity concert aimed at raising millions in donations to fund humanitarian assistance in Venezuela.

Moreover, Maduro has frequently accused the Colombian government of scheming in war plans along with the US to take down the socialist policies which were implemented in 1999, and ordered a special deployment of armed forces to secure the region.

The opposition has said that it will take the humanitarian aid contributed by several countries to Venezuela on Saturday despite Maduro's attempts to block its entry.

Miguel Pizarro, the opposition leader in charge of bringing in the humanitarian aid, said on Friday that the opposition is ready to take in the donations through several corridors that join Colombia and Venezuela.

But Maduro has said that he will not accept the aid, called it "rotten donations" and alleged that it carries "the venom of humiliation".

The aid has been gathered in the Colombian border city of Cucuta, the Brazilian state of Roraima and the island of Curaçao.

Venezuela's long-simmering political crisis moved into a more acute phase on January 23 with Guaido's claim to be the country's legitimate leader after calling Maduro's election illegitimate following his re-election on May 20, 2018.

A large part of the international community - including the US, several European and Latin American countries - supports Guaido and is pressing for fresh elections in the country.