One person has been killed and 12 are injured after Venezuelan troops opened fire on civilians trying to keep a border checkpoint open for aid deliveries.
Troops arrived at a checkpoint set up by an indigenous community in Kumarakapai, on Venezuela’s southern border with Brazil early this morning.
But when civilians tried to block a convoy of tanks, soldiers opened fire killing a woman named as Zorayda Rodriguez, 42, and wounding 12 others. Gran Sabana Mayor Emilio Gonzalez said soldiers fired rubber bullets and tear gas and the injured people were taken for medical treatment.
The villagers are believed to have been trying to keep open a section of the border so that aid could be moved into the area from Brazil. President Nicolas Maduro ordered the frontier with the country shut yesterday and is now considering shutting the border with Colombia.
Maduro is closing off his country to the West as his opposition rival Juan Guaido attempts to claim power having declared himself interim president, vowing to personally bring in US humanitarian aid on Saturday.
Russia has accused the US of using aid deliveries to Venezuela as a ploy to carry out military action against Maduro’s government. The Kremlin’s Foreign Ministry said America had deployed special forces and equipment near the South American nation and accused Washington of an instigating a ‘dangerous provocation’.
It comes after dramatic footage emerge of a clash between Maduro’s troops and supporters of Guaido. The clip shows trucks trying to ram through a checkpoint in Mariara, northern Venezuela, as security forces loyal to Maduro stand in its path.
One person has been killed and 12 are injured after Venezuelan troops opened fire on civilians trying to keep a border checkpoint open for aid deliveries. Pictured: an ambulance carrying victims of the shooting to hospital
Venezuelan national guards block people crossing from Brazil into Venezuela after Maduro closed the border
Tensions have been increasing between civilians and troops on the Brazil-Venezuela border ever since Maduro closed checkpoints, fearing aid is a precursor to an invasion. Pictured: Civilians stand at the border between Venezuela and Brazil
Armed response: Venezuelan soldiers grab a girl by her arm at the border between Venezuela and Brazil in Pacaraima today
Confrontation: Civilians approach the border between Venezuela and Brazil this morning. There are reports that Venezuelan troops have opened fire on people at a different checkpoint
Flashpoint: Dramatic footage has emerged of a clash between President Nicolas Maduro’s troops and supporters of his rival Juan Guaido in Venezuela
Tension: The clip shows trucks trying to ram through a checkpoint in Mariara, northern Venezuela, as security forces loyal to Maduro stand in its path
Clash: It is thought to have taken place as supporters of opposition leader Guaido, who has declared himself interim president, made their way to the border to collect US aid
Frustrated civilians shout at Venezuelan national guards as they are blocked from crossing the border from Brazil
Maduro denies there is a humanitarian crisis in his country and is refusing to allow foreign aid to cross the border
People waiting to cross to Venezuela argue with Venezuelan soldiers at the border between Venezuela and Brazil in Pacaraima
Venezuelans cross the Simon Bolivar International Bridge from San Antonio del Tachira in Venezuela to Norte de Santander province of Colombia
Rival concerts are taking place just 300m apart on either side of Venezuela’s border with Colombia while one person has been killed and 12 were injured when troops opened fire on people trying to keep open a section of the frontier with Brazil
It is thought to have taken place as supporters of opposition leader Guaido made their way to the border to collect US aid.
Maduro is refusing to let US supplies in, arguing it would be the first step toward a foreign invasion. Instead, he has accepted Russian aid and reportedly sent missiles to the border.
Meanwhile, the crisis is set to morph in to a ‘battle of the bands’ today with rival concerts taking place at opposite ends of a blockaded border bridge.
British tycoon Sir Richard Branson, after being approached by Guaido, is bidding to raise $100million in donations through ‘Venezuela Aid Live’ on the Colombian side of Tienditas bridge.
On the other side of the crossing, closed off with freight containers, President Nicolas Maduro will hold ‘hands off Venezuela’ – a three day festival.
Tensions are continuing to mount as the weekend approaches with Guaido adamant he will bring the supplies into the country on Saturday. The Tienditas bridge, is one of the conduits that he has targeted.
Angry Venezuelans shout and chant at border guards after being prevented from crossing over into Brazil
Maduro has closed the border with Brazil to prevent the entry of aid and the military has beefed up security at the Colombian border. But today pictures emerged of Venezuelans crossing the border into Brazil’s Roraima state
Venezuelan soldiers are pictured at the border between the country and Brazil as people watch on amid heightened tensions over plans to bring in US aid
Maduro denies there is a humanitarian crisis and said on Thursday he was considering closing Venezuela’s key border with Colombia and would close the country’s other main border with Brazil, effectively shutting off any legal land access. Pictured: People walk through a field as they try to cross into Brazil
A Venezuelan named Alejandro is seen battling sickness as he receives help from leaders of an evangelical church inside his house on the outskirts of Cucuta, on the Colombian-Venezuelan border. Maduro denies there is a humanitarian crisis
Brazilian soldiers organize sacks of powdered milk that are part of the humanitarian aid for Venezuela that Maduro is refusing to allow across the border
A Brazilian soldier walks near packages of rice and sugar that are part of the humanitarian aid for Venezuela, at Ala 7 air base in Boa Vista, Brazil
A Brazilian soldier drives a tractor with a trailer loaded with humanitarian aid for Venezuela
Branson aims to raise $100 million in donations through his concert with big stars from the Spanish-speaking world scheduled to perform, and the presidents of Colombia, Chile and Paraguay vowing to attend.
The government has not said who will perform on the Venezuela end of the bridge. That concert’s slogan is ‘Hands Off Venezuela.’
‘All the artists that are going to sing in Colombia must know that they are committing a crime. They are endorsing a military intervention,’ said Maduro.
On Thursday he ordered the closure of Venezuela’s border with Brazil – one of the main potential avenues for aid delivery – as part of the power struggle with Guaido over bringing in aid. Maduro said he was considering closing the border with Colombia, too.
Guaido meanwhile was travelling in a convoy of vehicles to personally pick up US aid being stockpiled on the Colombian border, defying Maduro’s military to stop him.
Recognised as interim president by more than 50 countries, he left the capital Caracas in a convoy of vehicles with tinted windows for the 560-mile trip.
The 35-year-old leader of the Venezuelan legislature proclaimed himself acting president January 23 and wants to oust Maduro, set up a transitional government and hold new elections.
Maduro has accepted a shipment of medical equipment and supplies sent from Russia – while refusing similar aid from countries which oppose his rule
Branson stands on stage with one of the organisers of the concert as he puts final preparations in place and the crowds arrive
A woman walks towards the concert from San Antonio del Tachira, which is on the Venezuelan side of the border, in the hopes of being able to sneak across into Colombia
Musicians including Latin rock star Juanes are due to perform at the concert which was dreamed up by Juan Guaido, Maduro’s political rival who has been recognised by Western governments as the country’s legitimate ruler
The gig is aiming to raise $100million for food and medical aid for the south American nation which has seen its economy devastated under the rule of Nicolas Maduro
Thousands of people arrived early Friday for a Venezuela Aid Live gig being hosted by British billionaire Richard Branson a few hundred yards across the border in neighbouring Venezuela
Guaido scored important symbolic boosts on Thursday as 11 Venezuelan diplomats based in the US declared their support for him.
Maria Teresa Belandria, Guaido’s designated ambassador in Brazil, said 100 tons of food, medicine and emergency kits were waiting to be trucked from Boa Vista to Pacaraima on the Venezuelan border.
Today, Russia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs accused the United States and its NATO allies of discussing how to arm the opposition in Venezuela and alleged Washington was deploying special forces and equipment near the South American nation.
Moscow cited unspecified information to back its assertion about the plans to arm the opposition, but did not say what that information was or present it.
Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said a U.S. humanitarian aid convoy for Venezuela could provoke clashes and create a pretext for removing Maduro, a staunch Russian ally, from power by force.
Meanwhile, Maduro – mirroring Guaido’s move in an attempt to show his socialist government was able to look after its people – ordered a shipment of thousands of food boxes to be distributed to the needy along the Colombian border.
He also announced on Thursday the arrival of another 7.5 tons of medicine and medical supplies from Russia.
Shipments of food and medicine for the crisis-stricken population have become a key focus of the power struggle between Maduro and Guaido.
Guaido, who says 300,000 people could die without an influx of aid, says he aims to rally a million volunteers to start bringing it in by Saturday.
It remained unclear how he proposed to do so if the blockade continues, but experts have pointed to the notoriously porous 2,200 kilometer (1,360-mile) border, which is perforated by well-worn drug trafficking and contraband routes.
Guaido said the planned entry points for aid were the Brazilian and Colombian borders, the island of Curacao and the seaports of Puerto Cabello and La Guaira.
A shipping container blocking passage is placed on a road crossing ahead of the ‘Venezuela Aid Live’ concert sponsored by British tycoon Richard Branson at the Tienditas International Bridge
Lawmaker members of the Venezuelan National Assembly and supporters of the Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaido clash with security forces as they block the road on the outskirts of Mariara
Humanitarian supplies sent by the US wait at the Tienditas International Bridge in the border city of Cucuta, Colombia
Guaido, who says 300,000 people could die without an influx of aid, says he aims to rally a million volunteers to start bringing it in by Saturday
Maduro is refusing to let US supplies in, arguing it would be the first step toward a foreign invasion. Instead, he has accepted Russian aid and reportedly sent missiles to the border
The opposition says teams of volunteers will spread out to bring aid in through states bordering Colombia and Brazil and from the city of Falcon in the north which looks out to Curazao. Colombian police say there are some 30 clandestine border crossings into Venezuela.
Venezuela’s vice-president Delcy Rodriguez said the government was shutting down air and sea links between Curacao and Venezuela.
The White House said Vice-President Mike Pence would visit neighboring Colombia on Monday in a show of support for Guaido.
The US has repeatedly said ‘all options,’ including military, are on the table.
But Brazilian Vice President Hamilton Mourao dismissed US threats of military intervention in Venezuela as ‘premature’ and said it ‘wouldn’t make sense.’
‘I think they’re more in the realm of rhetoric than action,’ Mourao said of the threats in an interview with AFP.