US military planes carry 180 tons of aid for Venezuelans


A US military transport plane carrying humanitarian aid meant for Venezuelans landed in the Colombian border city of Cucuta on Saturday, where food and medicine is being stored amidst uncertainty over how and where aid will be distributed.

A view of food suplements packs after U.S. Air Force aircrafts carrying humanitarian aid for Venezuela landed at Camilo Daza International Airport in Cucuta, February 16, 2019.

The shipment will be the second arrival of large-scale US and global aid for Venezuelans, many of whom have scant access to food and medicine, since opposition leader Juan Guaido declared himself interim president in defiance of socialist President Nicolas Maduro.

Earlier Friday, Guiado's representatives collected aid pledges from many nations at a meeting of the Organization of American States in Washington, where 25 countries promised more than $100 million in humanitarian aid to Venezuela.

Venezuelan Defense Minister Vladimir Padrino Lopez has accused opposition leaders of supporting a foreign military intervention in the country, the defense ministry said on Friday.

"Not only will this be happening at the border where the volunteer movement will be, but in cities up and down the country where there will be demonstrations on February 23 for the aid to come in", Guaido told thousands of supporters at a public gathering.

Speaking in Caracas to supporters who had volunteered to help with the aid effort, Guaido said he would announce details on Monday about how he planned to get aid into the country from Colombia, Brazil and Curacao despite Maduro's opposition.

His words came amid reports the socialist dictator has been holding secret talks with the Trump administration, something not denied by USA officials.

Guaido's announcement came as tons of USA food aid was piling up along the border with Colombia, in the latest flashpoint in the country's building political crisis. He dismissed the arriving aid as "crumbs" and "rotten and contaminated food".

"We have to do something to save so many people who are suffering and dying for lack of medicine", she said. He said he would examine "what new forces" might be needed to keep the frontier "inviolable".

About 2.3 million Venezuelans have fled the country since 2015 as the crisis intensified, according to the United Nations.

Critics say last year's re-election was fraudulent, making Maduro's second term illegal. Caulfield also discussed President Trump's new sanctions against Maduro officials.

"We paid for it with our own money because we're beggars to no one", Maduro said.

Some 30 European countries have already recognised the former engineer as Venezuela's leader, but holdouts include Italy and Greece.