Venezuela on the brink: Maduro puts troops on high alert amid new Cold War stand-off at border as US allies vow to force in aid and Cuba is accused of sending in soldiers

Wednesday, February 20, 2019
By Paul Martin

Troops in Venezuela have been put ‘on alert’ amid threats by US President Trump
Commanders have pledged allegiance to Venezuela’s President Nicolas Maduro
Self-declared interim president Juan Guaido vowed to bring aid in on Saturday
Comes as Cuba dismissed claims that it has troops installed in Venezuela

20 February 2019

Venezuela’s President Nicolas Maduro has put his troops ‘on alert’ amid a new Cold War stand-off at the border – days ahead of planned aid shipments in to the country.

Opposition leader and self-declared interim president Juan Guaido has vowed to bring aid in to the crisis-hit nation from various points on Saturday ‘one way or another’ despite military efforts to block it.

But commanders have doubled down on their allegiance to Maduro after US President Donald Trump urged them to abandon him.

If foreign powers try to help install a new government by force, they will have to do so ‘over our dead bodies,’ Defense Minister Vladimir Padrino said.

Meanwhile, Cuba has denied it has security forces in Venezuela and said such claims were part of an orchestrated campaign of lies paving the way for military intervention in the South American country.

Speaking last night, Padrino said Venezuela’s armed forces ‘will remain deployed and on alert along the borders… to avoid any violations of territorial integrity’.

Regional commander Vladimir Quintero later confirmed media reports that Venezuela had ordered the suspension of air and sea links with the island of Curacao and the nearby Netherlands Antilles islands of Aruba and Bonaire.

Shipments of food and medicine for Venezuelans suffering in the country’s economic crisis have become a focus of the power struggle between Maduro and Guaido.

Aid is being stored in Colombia near the Venezuelan border and Guaido aims also to bring in consignments via Brazil and Curacao, which is off the coast of Venezuela.

A Brazilian presidential spokesman said the country was cooperating with the United States to supply aid to Venezuela but would leave it to Venezuelans to take the goods over the border.

Maduro says the aid plan is a smokescreen for a US invasion. He blames US sanctions and ‘economic war’ for Venezuela’s crisis.

Guaido, the 35-year-old leader of the Venezuelan legislature, has appealed to military leaders to switch allegiance to him and let the aid through.

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