The Current

Border battle over aid in Venezuela helps Maduro opponents make case for intervention, analyst says

Attempts to bring aid into Venezuela resulted in violent clashes over the weekend, as soldiers loyal to embattled President Nicolas Maduro faced off against anti-government protesters. We examine the latest in the country's political and economic crisis.

Efforts to get food, medical supplies into Venezuela resulted in violent clashes

Opposition supporters unload humanitarian aid from a truck that was sent on fire after clashes with security forces at the Colombia-Venezuela border, Feb. 23, 2019. (Marco Bello/Reuters)
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Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro's political opponents won't be surprised that attempts to bring aid into the country were violently rebuffed, according to an analyst in Caracas. 

However, they could use the clashes at the border to gather support for international intervention, said Phil Gunson, a senior analyst for the International Crisis Group.

"The operation was an attempt, firstly, to demonstrate just how bad a government we have in Venezuela, in the sense that they're willing to go to these kind of lengths to keep the aid from coming in," he told The Current's Anna Maria Tremonti.

"And also to kind of present the case to the international community that the only way to remove this government is by force."

Venezuelan citizens crossed the border into Colombia on Saturday to escort a convoy of trucks bringing food and medicine into the country. 1:21

Efforts to get food and medical supplies into the country — in defiance of Maduro's blockade of foreign aid — were blocked by National Guardsmen Friday. Hundreds of civilians and protesters were injured, and at least two people died, in clashes with soldiers.​

In late January, the head of Venezuela's opposition-led National Assembly, Juan Guaido, took an oath swearing himself in as Venezuela's interim president. His party has urged the country's armed forces, as well as foreign powers, to withdraw support for Maduro. The embattled leader accused his opponents of orchestrating a coup.

Following the violence last week, Guaido called on the international community to consider "all options ... to secure the freedom of our country."

To discuss the recent violence, and what lies ahead for Venezuela, Tremonti was joined by:

  • Virginia Lopez-Glass, a freelance journalist who has been covering Latin America and Venezuela for the past 15 years.
  • Phil Gunson, a senior analyst for the International Crisis Group.

Click 'listen' near the top of this page to hear the full conversation.


Produced by Idella Sturino and Mary-Catherine McIntosh.

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