Trump says US backs Venezuela's 'quest for freedom': speech excerpts

Jermaine Castillo
February 7, 2019

Two tractor trailers remained on the Venezuelan side of the Puente Tienditas border crossing bridge with Colombia in what appears to be an effort to block humanitarian aid from entering the country, according to local reports.

In a February 5 letter distributed by League leader and deputy prime minister Matteo Salvini's office on Wednesday, Guaido asks if he can send a delegation "to illustrate the plan of action to renew democracy in Venezuela" through fair elections.

In his State of the Union address Tuesday night, US President Donald Trump ratcheted up pressure on the embattled Maduro government, saying that the US stands with the people of Venezuela in their "noble quest for freedom".

Police who provide security on the Colombian side of the bridge told Reuters there has been a huge number of Venezuelans asking when and where the aid will be delivered.

"I anticipate having perhaps a dozen locations all around Venezuela where such aid will be staged", the official said.

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Russia, China, and Iran have put their weight behind Maduro, as has Turkey.

In contrast to Trump's isolation on many global issues, his recognition of Guaido has been followed by major Latin American powers such as Brazil and Colombia with key European states including Britain, France, Germany and Spain following suit on Monday.

The 35-year-old Guaido, the head of Venezuela's National Assembly, has galvanized the opposition with a hopeful message.

Venezuela's foreign ministry rejected on Monday several European countries' decision to recognize opposition leader Juan Guaido as interim president.

He says 300,000 people could die of undernourishment and illness if the aid isn't brought in fast.

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Untreated surfaces across the region will be icy and slippery, and driver are encouraged to drive according to those conditions. Freezing rain is the primary threat, which will make roads and sidewalks very slippery.

Major European nations including Britain, Germany, France and Spain joined the United States on Monday in recognizing Guaido, while members of a separate regional bloc, the so-called Lima Group, kept the political heat on Maduro. "We have to come to buy food because we can not even get cooking oil and eggs in Venezuela". "Sometimes they despair but we can't do anything, it's so sad", said a patrolman located a few yards (meters) from the border.

Jeremy Konyndyk, a senior fellow at the Centre for Global Development, said Mr Maduro's continuing control of Venezuela's military and all the territory meant getting aid across the border will be hard but warned against politicising the assistance.

But a defiant Maduro maintains control of the military and calls the Guaido-led opposition a puppet of the United States, which he says is seeking to colonise Venezuela and exploit its vast oil resources.

On Monday, Maduro appealed to the "independent governments of the world" to reject the USA -backed efforts to oust him from power.

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