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Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro to close border with Brazil 'until further notice'

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

WION Web Team New Delhi, Delhi, India Feb 21, 2019, 10.54 PM (IST)

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro said on Thursday the government was considering closing the border with Colombia and would close the border with Brazil ahead of opposition plans to bring in humanitarian aid despite his objection.

In televised comments, Maduro said the stockpiling of aid for Venezuela in the Colombian border town of Cucuta was a "provocation". He argues the opposition's plans are a cheap show to undermine his government.

Maduro said the government would close the border with Brazil on Thursday night after the Brazilian government pledged to also send aid in.

According to a report by news agency, AFP the border with Brazil would be "completely and absolutely" closed from 8:00 pm (0000 GMT) "until further notice."

Venezuela President legitimacy has been in the crisis since January after opposition leader Juan Guaido declared himself as an acting President. He also called the incumbent Nicolas Maduro's 2018 reelections invalid and the body that elevated him.

The crisis has sparked mass protest in the country with thousands of people demonstrating against Maduro.

However, Maduro's government says, the current crisis is a coup attempt led by the United States to topple him and control the country's vast oil reserves.

Most Western countries, including the United States, have recognised Guaido as Venezuela's legitimate head of state, but Maduro retains the backing of Russia and China as well as control of state institutions including the military.

Earlier this week, Trump urged Venezuela's military to accept Guaido's amnesty offer, or stand to "lose everything," as the presidency crisis deepened over Maduro's refusal to let in desperately needed humanitarian aid sent by the US.

Guaido has ordered the armed forces to let the aid pass, but they remain loyal to Maduro's regime.

Three US military cargo planes delivered several dozen tons of food assistance to Cucuta on Saturday. Another US aircraft is due in Curacao from Miami on Tuesday.

Maduro has dismissed the humanitarian assistance as "crumbs" and "rotten and contaminated food," while blaming shortages of food and medicine on US sanctions.

(With inputs from agencies)

Story highlights

In televised comments, Maduro said the stockpiling of aid for Venezuela in the Colombian border town of Cucuta was a 'provocation'. He argues the opposition's plans are a cheap show to undermine his government.