clearn.png
Tuesday April 23rd, 2019 2:12AM

Venezuela's crisis hits stand-still over emergency aid

By The Associated Press
Related Articles
  Contact Editor

CUCUTA, Colombia (AP) — Nearly three weeks after the Trump administration backed an all-out effort to force out President Nicolas Maduro, the embattled socialist leader is holding strong and defying predictions of an imminent demise.

Dozens of nations have recognized opposition leader Juan Guaido's claim to the presidency and the U.S. has tightened sanctions aimed at cutting off billions of dollars in oil revenue. But anti-Maduro street protests have come and gone, and large-scale military defections have failed to materialize.

With the U.S. seen as considering military action only as a last resort, Guaido is trying to regain momentum with an effort this week to move U.S. emergency food and medicine into Venezuela despite Maduro's pledge to block it.

Such an operation could provoke a dangerous confrontation at the border — or fizzle out and leave Maduro even stronger.

With so much at stake, Guaido is under increasing pressure to soon unseat Maduro, analysts say.

"He is running against the clock," said Daniel Lansberg-Rodriguez, a Venezuela expert at Northwestern University's Kellogg School of Management. "Expectations are running very high — not just among Venezuelans but international allies — that this is a crisis that can be resolved quickly."

Despite having the world's largest oil reserves, Venezuela is suffering soaring levels of malnutrition, disease and violence after 20 years of socialist rule launched by the late President Hugo Chavez. Critics accuse Maduro, a former bus driver and Chavez's hand-picked successor, of unfairly winning an election last year for a second six-year term by banning his popular rivals from running and jailing others.

The 35-year-old Guaido was a virtually unknown lawmaker until last month, when he took the helm of the opposition-controlled National Assembly. He has rallied masses of Venezuelans into street demonstrations that have left at least 40 dead since he declared himself interim president on Jan. 23.

Guaido has so far avoided arrest, but the general comptroller announced Monday it was opening an investigation into Guaido's assets in a new escalation of the confrontation between the government and the National Assembly.

Guaido has won backing from nearly 50 countries worldwide, including the United States, which has pledged an initial $20 million in support and has already shipped emergency food and medicine to the Colombian border city of Cucuta, where it sits in a warehouse.

Maduro has refused all economic assistance, denying there is an economic crisis in Venezuela — and contending the aid is part of a coup being orchestrated by the White House to topple him.

Maduro has made a show of overseeing military operations played on state TV almost daily. He's jogged with troops in formation, mounted an amphibious tank and railed against what he says is an impending U.S. invasion that he has likened to a Latin American Vietnam.

On Monday, Venezuela socialist party chief, Diosdado Cabello, spoke at a rally in Venezuela's border city of Urena, across from Cucuta, crowding the streets with Maduro loyalists wearing the red shirts of the socialist party and waving flags.

Addressing the crowd, Cabello asserted Venezuelans tell him not to give in to pressure from the United States, saying they are willing to endure whatever they must to maintain freedom from imperialist rule. He said the U.S. supplies were sent in a showy display aimed at justifying a coup.

"It's not help and it's not humanitarian," he said to cheers from roughly 1,000 Maduro supporters, including civilians and soldiers.

Romulo Jaimes, a 62-year-old resident of Urena, said the socialist gathering wasn't what it appeared to be. He said more than 30 buses were parked outside the event, used to haul in Cabello's cheering crowd.

"In reality it was a flop," he said. "Most of the people from this city didn't attend the rally."

The U.S. humanitarian aid is being stored in a warehouse across a river from the socialist rally, a situation that also puts Maduro in a tight situation, said Eric Farnsworth of the Council of the Americas and Americas Society, a Washington-based think tank.

"If you let it in, you're bowing to Guaido and the international community," he said. "If you don't you're seen as a tyrant."

President Donald Trump has said all options are on the table regarding Maduro's ouster, but Farnsworth called any U.S. military deployment highly unlikely as such a move would make the U.S. responsible for supplying food long term and rebuilding the gutted country.

U.S. sanctions imposed on the state oil company PDVSA in late January and meant to pressure Maduro from office have yet to bite. In the capital, Caracas, residents pulling up to gas stations can still fill up their cars, despite fears that sanctions would create shortages.

Opposition leaders have been vague about how they plan to get the aid in.

Last week, Lester Toledo, Guaido's representative in the aid mission, suggested it could be moved by masses of people converging on the border to carry the food and medical supplies across.

On Monday, Guaido posted a video on Twitter showing himself and his wife making phone calls urging people to join a volunteer force by registering on a website and calling on them to return to the streets in protest Tuesday. 

"We're working hard," he said in one call. "Not only to bring in the aid, but also to end the tyranny" of Maduro. 

Gaby Arellano, an opposition leader who is among those leading the aid mission, said the strategy was to conduct "defiance" politics, which she said consists of setting an agenda that forces Maduro's hand, though she provided no details.

"We are politically defining the steps and they are responding to what we put forth," Arellano said. "We want and are working for this to be as peaceful, least traumatizing and as quick as possible."

Amaliexiz Mendoza, who lives in Cucuta with her 3-year-old daughter among the city's large Venezuelan exile community, said she would walk a thousand times to carry humanitarian aid to her countrymen. Her grandmother, an aunt and young cousins still live in Venezuela and often go hungry, and her grandmother can't get the blood pressure medication she needs.

"It's not right for a child to go to bed hungry," Mendoza said, tearing up as she spoke of Maduro's denial that a crisis exists. "He doesn't lack anything but our families do."

___

Associated Press writer Christine Armario reported this story in Cucuta, Colombia, and AP writer Scott Smith reported from Caracas, Venezuela. AP writers Fabiola Sanchez and Jorge Rueda in Caracas contributed to this report.

  • Associated Categories: Associated Press (AP), AP National News, AP Online National News, Top General short headlines, AP World News, AP Business, AP Business - Industries, AP Business - Utilities
© Copyright 2019 AccessWDUN.com
All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission.
Wanted: More pastures for West's overpopulated wild horses
US government seeks more pastures for thousands of wild horses that have overpopulated Western ranges
11:16AM ( 15 minutes ago )
Italy standoff over high-speed rail to France eases
Italy's coalition partners appear to have temporarily resolved a dispute over the high-speed rail line to France, with an agreement to let new contract bids go out on schedule but without any financial commitments
11:07AM ( 23 minutes ago )
Finland's outgoing premier may bow out as party chair
Finland's outgoing prime minister, who abruptly tendered the resignation of his center-right government just weeks before the general election, says he won't seek to remain as chairman of his party next year if support continues to decline
10:57AM ( 33 minutes ago )
Associated Press (AP)
Biden eyes fundraising challenge amid new sense of urgency
Questions about political fundraising are among the nagging issues as former Vice President Joe Biden considers whether to run for the White House in 2020
10:13AM ( 1 hour ago )
As blackout eases, Venezuela braces for rival rallies
Venezuelan security forces are deploying in large numbers in Caracas ahead of planned demonstrations by supporters of opposition leader Juan Guaido
10:08AM ( 1 hour ago )
First lady: Growing ease in official role, but not politics
As President Donald Trump shows his eagerness for the coming 2020 re-election battle, less clear is the first lady's fervor for participating in the effort
9:59AM ( 1 hour ago )
AP National News
The Latest: Smollett attorney: Indictment is 'vindictive'
An attorney for Jussie Smollett says a 16-count indictment against the "Empire" actor is "vindictive" and Smollett "maintains his innocence."
6:04AM ( 5 hours ago )
Trump offers budget with funds for border wall, Space Force
President Donald Trump will be making a significant request for border wall funds and seeking money to stand up Space Force as a new branch of the military
5:45AM ( 5 hours ago )
Japanese woman honored by Guinness as oldest person at 116
A 116-year-old Japanese woman who loves playing the board game Othello is being honored as the world's oldest living person by Guinness World Records
5:02AM ( 6 hours ago )
AP Online National News
CDC: Unvaccinated Oregon boy almost dies of tetanus
An unvaccinated 6-year-old boy in Oregon was hospitalized for eight weeks and almost died of tetanus after getting cut while playing on a farm
9:19PM ( 14 hours ago )
Venezuela buckles under massive power, communications outage
Venezuela's worst power and communications outage endangers hospital patients, forces schools and businesses to close and cuts off people from families, friends and the outside world
8:45PM ( 14 hours ago )
Bill Shine resigns from White House communications post
Former Fox News executive Bill Shine has resigned as White House communications director and has joined President Donald Trump's re-election campaign as a senior adviser
8:22PM ( 15 hours ago )
Top General short headlines
Ex-Venezuelan vice president accused of aiding drug dealers
A former Venezuelan vice president has been criminally charged in New York federal court, accused of using his office to aid international drug traffickers
7:40PM ( 15 hours ago )
Israeli fire kills Gaza protester; clashes in West Bank
Israeli troops have shot dead a Palestinian at the weekly protest along the fence bordering the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip, and Palestinians and the Israeli military clashed in a West Bank village earlier in the day
7:14PM ( 16 hours ago )
The Latest: IDB will have until March 15 to decide on Guaido
An international arbitration tribunal is ruling that Venezuela must pay ConocoPhillips more than $8 billion as compensation for the government's expropriation of the U.S. oil giant's investments in Venezuela in 2007
6:18PM ( 17 hours ago )
AP World News
US regulators clear path for genetically modified salmon
Genetically modified salmon have cleared another hurdle to be sold in the U.S., but could still face legal challenges
10:06PM ( 13 hours ago )
California man learns he's dying from doctor on robot video
A California family is devastated that their 78-year-old relative was told that he didn't have long to live by a doctor appearing on a robot's video screen
8:40PM ( 14 hours ago )
Computer to call balls and strikes in minor league
Computers will be used for ball/strike calls starting April 25 in the independent Atlantic League, where the distance between the mound and home plate will be increased by 2 feet to 62 feet, 6 inches for the second half of the season beginning July 12
7:59PM ( 15 hours ago )
AP Business
Arizona now oversees center where incapacitated woman raped
An embattled Phoenix long-term care facility where an incapacitated woman was raped and later gave birth is now under state supervision
5:16PM ( 18 hours ago )
First down week since January for S&P 500 as unease spreads
Another wave of selling on Wall Street Friday left the S&P 500 with its worst weekly showing since January and its eighth loss in the last nine days
4:56PM ( 18 hours ago )
Stocks fall as weak hiring adds to unease on global economy
U.S. stocks are marching broadly lower following a surprisingly weak jobs report and more signs that the global economy is hitting the brakes
3:12PM ( 20 hours ago )
AP Business - Industries
China leads stock markets retreat on trade talks doubts
Shanghai leads retreat in world shares retreat on doubts over US-China trade deal
7:09AM ( 1 day ago )
South Dakota passes bills to discourage Keystone XL rioting
South Dakota is poised to pass laws aimed at potential protests against the planned Keystone XL oil pipeline
6:34PM ( 1 day ago )
South Dakota passes law to discourage Keystone XL protests
South Dakota is poised to pass laws aimed at potential protests against the planned Keystone XL oil pipeline
6:26PM ( 1 day ago )
AP Business - Utilities
Wanted: More pastures for West's overpopulated wild horses
US government seeks more pastures for thousands of wild horses that have overpopulated Western ranges
11:16AM ( 15 minutes ago )
Italy standoff over high-speed rail to France eases
Italy's coalition partners appear to have temporarily resolved a dispute over the high-speed rail line to France, with an agreement to let new contract bids go out on schedule but without any financial commitments
11:07AM ( 23 minutes ago )
Finland's outgoing premier may bow out as party chair
Finland's outgoing prime minister, who abruptly tendered the resignation of his center-right government just weeks before the general election, says he won't seek to remain as chairman of his party next year if support continues to decline
10:57AM ( 33 minutes ago )
Italian envoy confirms deaths of 2 climbers in Pakistan
Italy's ambassador to Pakistan has confirmed the deaths of two European mountain climbers missing on Nanga Parbat, the world's ninth-tallest mountain
10:52AM ( 39 minutes ago )
Maine shelled out fewer prized scallops in 2018
Maine's scallop harvest declined by about a third in 2018, making the first time in several years that the valuable fishery has taken a step back
10:36AM ( 55 minutes ago )