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11 February, 2019 12:52:58 AM

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Where humanitarian aid used as weapon

Maduro-Guaido conflict in Venezuela
AFP, Caracas
Where humanitarian aid used as weapon

Desperately needed aid being stockpiled at Venezuela's door is at the heart of a political duel between the two men fighting to lead the oil-rich nation: Juan Guaido and Nicolas Maduro.

Guaido, recognized as Venezuela's interim president by around 50 countries, has pressed the all-critical military to allow the mostly American humanitarian aid to reach the most vulnerable population, or around 300,000 people.

Maduro insists the shortages plaguing the country are caused by Washington's punitive sections, and he has vowed to stop the "spectacle of fake humanitarian aid."

The aid "is at the heart of the struggle between two pillars of power," political scientist Luis Salamanca told AFP.

"This struggle is playing out as concerns the future of the armed forces. Guaido is trying to get the military on his side, while Maduro tries to keep it behind him."

Using a tanker truck, two container trucks and barriers, the army has been blocking the Tienditas border bridge since Thursday.

Several hundred meters (yards) from there on the Colombia side are the hangars where the emergency aid is being stockpiled.

For John Magdaleno of the Polity consultancy, the confrontation between the two men is a "major event" that "is inevitably leading toward an escalation" between the government and the opposition, as well as between Maduro and the countries supporting his adversary.

"In the end, it's in the hand of the United States.

They are the ones who can use force," Magdaleno said.

President Donald Trump's administration, which has insisted that "all options are on the table" -- has frozen the accounts of Venezuelan leaders and unveiled fresh sanctions to bar Maduro from accessing revenues from oil his country sells in the US.

Before possibly resorting to force, Washington is exploring "all other options" first, Magdeleno said, adding that "this chapter on humanitarian aid foreshadows a far more significant escalation that could trigger a military intervention."

However, Assistant Secretary of State for Western Hemisphere Affairs Kimberly Breier has insisted that the US has no intention of entering Venezuelan territory by force to distribute food and medicine.

 the meantime, The United States has presented a draft resolution at the United Nations Security Council calling for international aid deliveries and a presidential vote in Venezuela, triggering a Russian counter-proposal.

While no date has yet been set for a vote on the American draft, and negotiations are ongoing, Russia is likely to use its veto power to block it as part of its support of Nicolas Maduro's regime, diplomats said.

The text, a copy of which was obtained by AFP on Saturday, expresses "full support for the National Assembly as the only democratically elected institution in Venezuela."

The legislative body's chairman, Juan Guaido, has declared himself interim president of Venezuela, challenging Maduro's rule.

The draft resolution stresses "deep concern with the violence and excessive use of force by Venezuelan security forces against unarmed, peaceful protesters."

EA

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Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
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Editor : M. Shamsur Rahman
Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
Editorial, News & Commercial Offices : Beximco Media Complex, 149-150 Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1208, Bangladesh. GPO Box No. 934, Dhaka-1000.

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