Venezuela closes border with Colombia

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While Maduro is trying to prevent USA aid from entering Venezuela, Juan Guaidó, who the United States and other nations have recognized as the country's rightful interim president, has vowed to personally bring in humanitarian assistance into the chaos-ridden country.

Venezuelan artist Nacho performs as Venezuela's opposition leader Juan Guaido flanked by Chilean President Sebastian Pinera and Paraguayan President Mario Abdo Benitez looks on during the "Venezuela Aid Live" concert, organized to raise money for the Venezuelan relief effort, at the head of the Tienditas International Bridge in Cucuta, Colombia, on February 22, 2019.

At the country's other border in Brazil, four people have been killed as of Friday, and an additional 18 have been injured by colectivos - armed gang members who support President Nicolas Maduro, according to Alfredo Romero, the director and president of the Venezuelan human rights association Foro Penal.

The decision for Venezuelan troops to abandon their posts at the Colombian border illustrates the conflict posed by pressures from opposing political forces in a time of great economic strife for the Venezuelan people.

Guaido, the 35-year-old president of Venezuela's National Assembly, declared himself the country's interim leader in January as conditions deteriorated under socialist dictator Nicolas Maduro. The vehicles are driven by Venezuelans and escorted by Brazilian police, organizers said. The Maduro government rejected the 'aid, ' calling it a publicity stunt meant to bolster the opposition.

The violence came just hours before dueling concerts were expected to begin on the country's western border with Colombia, where tons of donated food and medicine are stored.

"Yankee go home", Maduro told a rally of red-shirted, flag-waving supporters in the capital, Caracas. Organizers estimate some 250,000 people will attend the Venezuela Aid Live concert which aims to raise 100 million US dollars in food and medicine for Venezuela.

Several thousand people - many wearing white and carrying Venezuelan flags - were already gathered in a large field, as several uniformed officers on horses and foot stood guard near the border.

"Hate will never be bigger than love, never", said Juanes during his Venezuela Aid Live performance.

Riding by the bridge on his bike, college student Frander Duenas said he hoped to sneak into Colombia to see Branson's Venezuela Aid Live because he's a fan of the musicians performing.

Guaido, accompanied by Duque and OAS President Luis Almagro, ordered the crossing of the American aid packages from Brazil and Colombia earlier Saturday and called on soldiers at the border to defect.

Venezuela has also closed its maritime border with three Dutch Caribbean islands - Curacao, Aruba and Bonaire - ahead of the "foreign aid" operation. The stretch of near-dry riverbed on the Venezuelan frontier is crossed by four narrow worldwide bridges over which Guaido worked to deliver hundreds of tons of humanitarian aid to the near-starving nation. The leaders greeted the crowd before the concert ended.

"Performers took to the stage against a giant backdrop emblazoned with the words "#Trump Hands off Venezuela", with around 2,500 people in attendance.

"We don't want to be interfered with, we don't want to be invaded", said Johana Suarez.

Russian Federation has declared support for Mr Maduro's government, repeatedly accusing the United States of planning military action against the Venezuela president.

Moscow has blasted Washington for using aid as a "convenient pretext for conducting military action".



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