Venezuela closes border with Colombia

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Demonstrators set up barricades and burned tires in the Venezuelan border town of Urena, as attention turned to whether National Guard troops stationed at the border crossing would fulfill Maduro's orders to block humanitarian aid from reaching a sick and hungry population.

Thousands of people had traveled to the bridges to form human chains and to start passing aid packages to the other side of the border, the German DPA news agency reported. "You can't say anything against the government".

A video provided by Colombian authorities shows three soldiers at the Simon Bolivar bridge wading through a crowd with their assault rifles and pistols held above their heads in a sign of surrender. The concert is aimed at raising funds to help the relief effort.

Thousands of government supporters clad in signature red shirts led a rally in downtown Caracas to denounce intimidation by the United States and to demand that the Trump administration halt sanctions.

"In demand of respect for elementary rules of worldwide law, we call on [Colombian President] Ivan Duque to cease its infamous actions and stop facilitating the territory of Colombia to attempt, following orders of [U.S. President] Donald Trump against the right of the Venezuelans to live in peace and sovereignty", Rodriguez was quoted by Venezuelan news channel Telesur as saying. "But in less than 24 hours we are going to witness something historic".

"We're exhausted. There's no work, nothing", Andreina Montanez, 31, said as she sat on a curb recovering from the sting of tear gas used to disperse the crowd.

Venezuela's power struggle was set to become a battle of the bands Friday when musicians demanding President Nicolas Maduro allow in humanitarian aid and those supporting his refusal were to sing in rival concerts on both sides of a border bridge where tons of donated food and medicine were stored.

One truck in a convoy attempting to bring humanitarian aid into Venezuela from Colombia went up in flames on Saturday, Feb. 23, sending plumes of dark smoke into the air, as footage from a Venezuelan television channel showed.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has urged that violence be avoided in Venezuela, according to his spokesman, Stephane Dujarric. They also contend that if the military does allow the food and medical gear to pass, it will signify troops are now loyal to Guaido.

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Local resident, Fernando Flore, said national guardsmen acting under orders from Maduro had torched the trucks once they crossed into Venezuelan territory.

The U.S. was the first to recognize Guaido as president, followed by about 50 other nations.

Six hundred tons of aid, largely donated by the USA, has been sitting in a storage facility at what is widely known as the Tienditas International Bridge for two weeks.

Three members defected at Venezuela's border with Colombia, the Colombian immigration department said.

He said members of the Pemon ethnic group clashed with the Venezuela National Guard and army, who were moving tanks to the border with Brazil a day after Maduro ordered the crossing closed.

Bianquis and Miti Gamez said they were not attending the concert to be entertained.

"The United States strongly condemns the Venezuelan military's use of force against unarmed civilians and innocent volunteers on Venezuela's border with Brazil", the White House said in a statement, adding: "The world is watching".

Early Saturday two large trucks carrying eight tonnes of emergency aid left Boa Vista in Brazil en route to the Venezuelan border.

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