Red Cross ready to aid Venezuela, warns against politics

Posted March 31, 2019

But Zakharova, in her statement Saturday, said Russian Federation had made it clear it was not sending a military contingent to Venezuela.

Asked about Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro's announcement this week that opposition leader Juan Guaido is banned from Venezuelan politics for the next 15 years, Abrams said " I don't imagine that Juan Guaido is deeply anxious, because the Maduro regime - while it might be around in 15 days, [it] is not going to be around in 15 years.

He added that the opposition lied when it said it was not in dialogue with the government.

Earlier Friday, Guaido announced that "important medical support" would be arriving in the resources-starved country "in the coming hours". Police, who in the past have cracked down on opposition gatherings, set off a tear gas canister to disperse the government supporters and formed a line to separate the two groups.

Russia and Venezuela signed a military cooperation treaty in 2011 involving the sale of Russian weapons to Venezuela.

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Some oil production, too, was shut in as a result of both blackouts, which the Maduro regime claims was an act of sabotage at the hands of the United States.

The latest announcement comes as dire conditions in Venezuela force millions to leave the country and make lives elsewhere.

The country's hyperinflationary crisis has made food and medicine unaffordable for most citizens, fueling widespread malnutrition, especially among children, and a rise in preventable diseases.

"The distribution has to be neutral", he said.

Guaido blamed corruption and mismanagement under Maduro for the recurring blackouts that have crippled much of the country this month. Speaking from podiums in the street with his shirt sleeves rolled up, the 35-year-old politician drew applause when he said even bigger protests will be held on April 6 as the opposition intensifies its push to topple Maduro.

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China, which has major oil investments in the country, continues to back Maduro and has offered to help his government improve the power supply that has been interrupted by frequent blackouts.

"This looks like a real opportunity and we think it is a response to the efforts that interim president Guaido has been making", said the envoy, Elliott Abrams.

Rocca added that the Red Cross would consider delivering aid now being stored on the Colombian and Brazilian sides of the border with Venezuela, as long as it meets the protocols of the humanitarian organization.

In Washington, the US envoy for Venezuela welcomed the latest aid distribution plan.

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