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CARACAS (CBSMiami) – The interim president of Venezuela, Juan Guaidó is calling citizens to mobilize this Saturday to demand the entry of humanitarian aid to the country and is delivering a clear message to the Venezuelan military.
Guaidó sent a message to the officials of the National Armed Forces on Wednesday saying Nicolas Maduro is in “resistance.”
“Gentlemen of the National Armed Forces have three days to side with the Constitution, abide by the order of the president of the republic and allow humanitarian aid to enter in,” Guaidó said in a tweet.
Guaidó stressed that Venezuelans will be going to military bases and outposts to demand that the aid is admitted.
“On February 23 we will mobilize throughout the country as we did with the delivery of guarantees and amnesties. We will go peacefully to the garrisons, to the posts, with courage, to demand that humanitarian aid be let in.”
He indicated that the National Assembly is progressing on the route it proposed and maintained that free and legitimate elections will be held in the country. “The Assembly is taking clear steps, we will go to free elections in Venezuela.”
Admiral Craig Faller, the head of the US Southern Command based in Doral, also sent a message to the Venezuelan military, “You will ultimately be responsible for your actions. Do things well. Save your people and your country.”
“The president has been quite clear, our job as military professionals is to be ready. The world is united, and we are working closely with our friends, the Colombians and others,” Faller said.
“Este mensaje es para los militares venezolanos: ustedes al final serán responsables de sus acciones. Hagan las cosas bien”, expresó Craig Faller, comandante del comando Sur de EEUU. #TVVNoticias #TVVenezuela pic.twitter.com/dLr841MmTK
— TVVenezuela Noticias (@TVVnoticias) February 20, 2019
Officials at Southcom recently told the New York Times, they have been drawing up plans for a series of potential missions in Venezuela.
Meanwhile, Maduro’s government said on Tuesday he expected to receive 300 tons of humanitarian aid from Russia.
Reports from inside Venezuela indicate a single Russian plane arrived in Caracas, but the report did not indicate what its cargo contained.
Tuesday night, Maduro took aim at his opposition and US-backed interim President Guaidó at a graduation ceremony for medical students.
“There’s a clown out there who claims to be interim president. Well, if you are interim president, the first thing he has to do, or had to do, is call for elections. Why hasn’t he called for elections? Ask yourselves, why hasn’t he called for elections,” he said.
The US has sent truckloads of aid to Venezuela but they have been stopped at the border and are now in Colombia.
Colombia is preparing to stage a concert at its border with Venezuela this weekend to bring attention to Venezuela’s humanitarian crisis.
Meantime, Venezuela has shut a key maritime border and grounded flights as the opposition party seeks to import foreign aid.
A government representative confirmed Venezuela has closed its maritime border with Aruba, Curacao, and Bonaire and, in the Western state of Falcon, prevented flights leaving from or departing to those islands.
Vice Admiral Vladimir Quintero said that there was no date set for lifting the closures, according to the representative.
Despite being an oil-rich country, the Venezuelan economy has suffered from years of mismanagement.
The crisis has left people from all walks of life struggling for food, basic living essentials, and medicine.
More than three million Venezuelans have left their homes, with a million emigrating to neighboring Colombia, UNHCR said in November.
Maduro maintains his country does not need aid and has barricaded bridges in an attempt to block it.
The government of Brazil held a meeting Tuesday to “define logistics” on providing aid to the Venezuelan people, presidential spokesman Otavio Rego Barros said in a press conference. The aid, which includes food and medicine, is anticipated to begin flowing February 23, he said.
The operation will be conducted in “cooperation” with the US government, he added.
In an apparent retort to international efforts to send food to hungry Venezuelans, communications minister Jorge Rodriguez claimed Monday that Caracas will send food to feed hungry Colombian children, even as citizens in his country struggle with food shortages at home.
Allies circle wagons
Maduro’s allies have come to his defense in the face of increasing pressure from the US and its regional allies.
Cuban Foreign Minister, Bruno Rodriguez Parrilla, held a press conference in Havana on Tuesday where he decried what he termed as US intervention in the socialist state.
“The government of the US has invented, fabricated in Washington an imperialist coup,” he said, echoing the sentiments embattled Maduro communicated during a televised meeting Monday night.
He added that the attempted change of power had not worked, referring to US President Donald Trump’s support of Guaidó.
On Monday, Trump held a rally in Miami where he called Maduro a “Cuban puppet” and claimed that Cuba had troops in Venezuela defending the socialist leader.
“The accusation by the US President that Cuba maintains a private army in Venezuela is despicable. I demand that you present evidence. Our government rejects that slander in the strongest and most categorical terms,” said Rodriguez.
Venezuela’s defense minister, Vladimir Padrino Lopez, reiterated the country’s military support for Maduro, while also criticizing Trump.
“We are going to defend our country, we will defend it, we will resist, because good always overcomes evil, we are going to prevail,” he said in a speech broadcast on Venezuela’s government broadcaster VTV.
He said that the country’s armed forces had watched Trump’s speech on Venezuela during the Miami rally, and called his criticism of Venezuela “arrogant,” adding that it condoned terrorism, adding that the US leader could not “give orders to the men and women of the Venezuelan armed forces.”
Flanked by other high-ranking military officials, Padrino Lopez also referred to Guaidó.
“We say the same to those that want to be president, they cannot break our patriotic spirit by force to install an anti-patriotic puppet. They will have to go over our dead bodies.”
Padrino Lopez ended his speech by saying that Venezuela’s armed forces will be always stationed along the country’s borders to prevent any possible territorial violations.
(©2019 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. Cable News Network, Inc., a Time Warner Company, contributed to this report.)