US Aid Deliveries to Venezuela Pursuing Political Goals - Foreign Minister

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Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaido, who invoked a constitutional provision last month to declare himself acting president, has been working with a raft of global partners to bring Venezuelans desperately needed food and medical supplies.

The 35-year-old lawmaker was greeted there by the presidents of Colombia, Chile and Paraguay, three of the nations that have recognised him as interim president.

But nearly as soon as the aid convoy departed, the limitations of Guaido's high-stakes gamble became clear.

Despite the activists flanking the "aid" trucks as they approached the closed border in Simon Bolivar worldwide bridge, the trucks were able to pass the checkpoints, as tear gas and rubber bullets were used to repel the opposition militants, with witnesses reporting the use of molotov cocktails and other weapons in attempts to try to force entry into Venezuela.

The killing came as a fundraising concert for Venezuela - backed by British billionaire Richard Branson and featuring major Latin pop stars like Luis Fonsi and Maluma - kicked off in the Colombian frontier town of Cucuta, where the United States has been stockpiling aid to ship across the border this weekend.

"The struggle in Venezuela is between dictatorship and democracy, and freedom has the momentum".

Maduro declared that he is breaking diplomatic relations with Colombia, which has called for his ouster and thrown its support to Guaidó.

But Venezuelans have been defying government orders, and residents in Urena began removing yellow metal barricades and barbed wire. Protesters were seen throwing rocks at troops and attacking buses. A regional official confirmed that two people were killed.

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"We don't want to be interfered with, we don't want to be invaded", said Johana Suarez.

The single mum said she lost her job as a seamstress in December and had to console her 10-year-old daughter's fears that she would be left orphaned when she chose to join yesterday's protest.

"A little over a year ago I crossed this border and was robbed of my luggage and all my money", she said. "But still, these soldiers are scary". Three others smashed through a security barrier on the Simon Bolivar bridge crossing in their jeep. Medics near the bridge were treating dozens of people from tear gas inhalation and the stampede that retreated when canisters were fired.

"I've spent days thinking about this", said one of the soldiers who left his post. He called on his comrades to join him: "There is a lot of discontent inside the forces, but also lots of fear". "The Venezuelan military should protect civilians, not shoot them", he said.

They had intended it to meet up with a separate ship of aid which Guaido said sailed from Puerto Rico with 250 tons of aid. "They've made a decision to put themselves on the side of the people and the constitution.The arrival of liberty and democracy to Venezuela can't be detained". "Looking ahead for tomorrow the secretary-general strongly appeals for violence to be avoided".

At least two people were killed during a separate effort on Saturday aimed at transporting aid into Venezuela via the country's border with Brazil, the AFP news agency reported, citing the Venezuela-based Foro Penal human rights group. The town was also the site of deadly disturbances a day earlier when members of the indigenous Pemon tribe clashed with security forces.

The "Venezuela Live Aid" concert, which featured some of the biggest names in Spanish-language music, was broadcast live online.

Meanwhile the world's largest worldwide aid organization has demanded that "unaffiliated" activists at the Venezuela-Colombia border not use their insignia, as it risks "jeopardizing our neutrality, impartiality & independence", the global Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies said.

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