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Tempers flare as lawmakers in Venezuela convoy clash with troops at roadblock

by Robie de Guzman   |   Posted on Saturday, February 23rd, 2019

Image captured from a Reuters video footage

(REUTERS) — Lawmakers scuffled with soldiers wearing riot gear on a roadblock at a tunnel some 100 kilometers (60 miles) along the main road which forced several buses to stop.

Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaido left Caracas with some 80 lawmakers on Thursday (February 21) and headed for the Colombian border where they hope to receive humanitarian aid in defiance of President Nicolas Maduro, who threatened to close it.

Lawmakers said some vehicles managed to pass through the tunnel after being stuck for several hours but other buses remained behind.

Lawmakers said Guaido’s vehicle continued but his exact location was being kept a secret due to security concerns.

The Information Ministry did not respond to a request to comment.

“Pretending that humanitarian aid is not going to reach Venezuela is an act of cruelty. We know that these soldiers are passing the same need as all the people of Venezuela, humanitarian aid comes in yes or yes,” said Venezuelan Lawmaker Delsa Solorzano who was among those who scuffled with soldiers to remove roadblocks.

“This is simply a way to look for pitfalls so that we can’t reach San Cristobal. What the usurpers forget is that these men dressed in green are also human beings and we go to find food and medicine to bring it to the people yes or yes, as our president Guaido said,” Venezualan Lawmaker Richard Blanco insisted as he tried to persuade soldiers to let the humanitarian shipments enter the border.

Guaido, who is recognized by dozens of countries as Venezuela’s legitimate head of state, is poised for a showdown with Maduro’s beleaguered government on Saturday, when the opposition plans to attempt to bring in food and medicine piling up on the Colombian side.

Maduro denies there is a humanitarian crisis in Venezuela and said on Thursday he was considering closing the border with Colombia and would close the border with Brazil. The government has said soldiers will be stationed at crossing points to repel any “territorial violations.”

The opposition lawmakers set off from Caracas just after 10 a.m. on a 800-kilometer (500-mile) road trip to the Colombian border.