The Venezuelan government, led by embattled President Nicolas Maduro, has blocked a bridge connecting Venezuela to Colombia, according to Colombian officials. The move effectively blocks the passage of humanitarian aid called for by Venezuela’s opposition, should it be delivered via this route, CNN reported.
New images show an orange oil tanker and two large blue containers positioned midway across the three-lane Tienditas Bridge, which connects Cucuta, Colombia, with Venezuela.
Cucuta is one of three collection points for international humanitarian aid called for by Venezuela’s opposition leader and self-declared president Juan Guaido amid Venezuela’s debilitating economic crisis, CNN adds.
Last week, Guaido identified the three collection points: the Brazil-Venezuela border, an as-of-yet unidentified Caribbean island, and Cucuta. However, Maduro has rejected the international aid, saying that the Venezuelan people “are not beggars.”
Juan Caicedo, a spokesperson from Migration Colombia, Colombia’s Ministry of Immigration and Immigration Control, said the Venezuelan military put the blockade into place on Tuesday afternoon, adding that there are cameras monitoring activity on the bridge.
U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo weighed in these developments, demanding from Venezuela to reopen the bridge. In a tweet, Pompeo demanded Maduro let the aid through, BBC writes.
“The Maduro regime must LET THE AID REACH THE STARVING PEOPLE,” Pompeo stressed.
According to CNN, it’s possible the Venezuelan government fears aid crossing the border could be used as cover for an invasion to depose Maduro, who has faced intense pressure since Guaido declared himself acting president on January 23, invoking a constitutional rule to open a rare challenge to his presidency.
Guaido, a previously largely unknown opposition leader, has been recognized by Australia, Canada, a group of major European nations, a number of Latin American countries and the United States, which have upped sanctions on the country.