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Venezuela completely closes border with Colombia

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By IANS Updated: Feb 23, 2019 9:00 pm
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A demonstrator throws rocks during clashes with the Bolivarian National Guard in Urena, Venezuela, near the border with Colombia, Saturday, Feb. 23, 2019. Venezuela’s National Guard fired tear gas on residents clearing a barricaded border bridge between Venezuela and Colombia on Saturday, heightening tensions over blocked humanitarian aid that opposition leader Juan Guaido has vowed to bring into the country over objections from President Nicolas Maduro. AP/PTI Photo

Caracas, Feb. 23 (IANS): The Venezuelan government has completely closed its border with Colombia in the face of alleged threats to its sovereignty from the neighbouring country, from where the opposition plans to bring in international humanitarian aid into Caracas.

The step was taken on Friday night, hours after Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered communications to be shut off with Aruba, Bonaire and Curacao islands and closed the border with Brazil, to stop the entry of the aid amassed there, reports Efe news.

“The government informs the people that, due to the serious and illegal threats attempted by Colombia against the peace and sovereignty of Venezuela, it has taken the decision of a temporary total closure of the Simon Bolivar, Santander and Union bridges!” Vice President Delcy Rodriguez tweeted.

She said that the Colombian government of Ivan Duque is acting against the rights of Venezuelans to live in peace and sovereignty at the orders of US President Donald Trump.

She added that the border normality will be restored as soon as the gross acts of violence – which Caracas has alleged were generated from Bogota – is controlled.

The shutdown was expected after Maduro said on Thursday that closing the Venezuelan border with Colombia was being contemplated, where billionaire Richard Branson has organised a solidarity concert aimed at raising millions in donations to fund humanitarian assistance in Venezuela.

The opposition has said that it will take the humanitarian aid contributed by several countries to Venezuela on Saturday despite Maduro’s attempts to block its entry.

The aid has been gathered in the Colombian border city of Cucuta, the Brazilian state of Roraima and the island of Curacao.

Venezuela’s political crisis intensified on January 23 with National Assembly leader Juan Guaido’s self-proclamation to be the country’s legitimate leader after calling Maduro’s election illegitimate following his re-election on May 20, 2018.

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By IANS Updated: Feb 23, 2019 9:00:19 pm