Venezuelan Military Fires On Protesters, Killing 2, In Confrontation Over Aid – NPR

Brazilian soldiers pile humanitarian aid in Boa Vista, Brazil near the border with Venezuela on Friday. Venezuelan activists are vowing to bring it into Venezuela this weekend.

Nelson Almeida/AFP/Getty Images


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Nelson Almeida/AFP/Getty Images

Brazilian soldiers pile humanitarian aid in Boa Vista, Brazil near the border with Venezuela on Friday. Venezuelan activists are vowing to bring it into Venezuela this weekend.

Nelson Almeida/AFP/Getty Images

Venezuelan security forces killed two protesters Friday as opposition activists prepare their attempt to bring international aid into the country against the will of Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro.

Security forces fired on protesters in the southern Venezuelan town of Kumarakapay near the border with Brazil. Clashes erupted over security forces’ refusal to allow aid into the country. Two people were killed and more than a dozen injured, according to multiple reports.

The White House said Friday it “strongly condemns the Venezuelan military’s use of force against unarmed civilians and innocent volunteers.”

Near the other side of the country, opposition leader Juan Guaidó — who has declared himself Venezuela’s legitimate interim president and has been recognized as such by the United States and dozens of other countries — appeared with the presidents of Chile, Colombia and Paraguay at a concert in Cúcuta, Colombia.

Guaidó is banned from leaving Venezuela but reportedly said he crossed the border with the help of the armed forces.

“Here is a Venezuela in search of freedom,” he said at an aid storage warehouse in Cúcuta, The Associated Press reported. “Thank you, to the people of the world, for opening your doors to us.”

From left: Chilean President Sebastián Piñera, Colombian President Iván Duque, Venezuela’s opposition leader Juan Guaidó and Paraguayan President Mario Abdo Benítez wave at the “Venezuela Aid Live” concert in Cúcuta, Colombia, on Friday.

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From left: Chilean President Sebastián Piñera, Colombian President Iván Duque, Venezuela’s opposition leader Juan Guaidó and Paraguayan President Mario Abdo Benítez wave at the “Venezuela Aid Live” concert in Cúcuta, Colombia, on Friday.

Raul Arboleda/AFP/Getty Images

Thousands had gathered in Cúcuta for a benefit concert on the Colombian side of the Venezuelan border organized by billionaire Richard Branson to pressure the Maduro government to allow humanitarian aid into the country.

Activists are planning to travel on Saturday with trucks carrying tons of food and medicine, provided by the U.S. and other countries, that has been sitting in a warehouse in Cúcuta. Guaidó is calling for Venezuela’s military to defy orders and allow shipments into the country on Saturday.

Opposition activists also hope to deliver other aid shipments by sea and over the Brazilian border on Saturday, according to the AP.

The U.S. Department of State said Friday it was “pre-positioning” an additional 178 metric tons of aid in Boa Vista, Brazil, near the Venezuelan border.

But Venezuelan Vice President Delcy Rodríguez tweeted on Friday that the government would implement a “temporary total closure” of three main bridges between Cúcuta and Venezuela. It came a day after Maduro ordered the border with Brazil closed.

Maduro views the aid shipments as a Trojan horse meant to destabilize his government.

Venezuela has faced a growing humanitarian crisis for years, with shortages of food and spiraling inflation leading millions to leave the country. The United Nations said Friday that 3.4 million people have now left Venezuela.

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