The NY Times reports that tensions along Venezuela’s border have escalated to the point that government security forces opened fire on protesters, killing at least two people. The battle between the government and protesters is over food. The U.S. and other countries have sent aid to the border. Juan Guaidó has said he wants to get that food aid across the border and into the hands of starving people but Nicolas Maduro’s has ordered his security forces to block the border crossings and reportedly threatened truck drivers about bringing the food across the border.
Venezuelan opposition leaders and their allies in Brazil were scrambling on Friday to find trucks and drivers to transport 500 kits of food and medicine that they hope to get across the border on Saturday.
María Teresa Belandria, an opposition leader who serves as Mr. Guaidó’s envoy to Brazil, said in an interview that some of the drivers that they hoped to enlist for the plan had been held back by the armed forces in Venezuela. Others, who are already in Brazil, have been threatened by allies of Mr. Maduro with arrest, she said.
“It’s been very hard to line up the trucks,” said Ms. Belandria. “We’re coming up with a contingency plan.”
Things came to a head early this morning when a group of Venezuelans attempted to block the path of Maduro’s forces as they were headed to the border with Brazil. The security forces were there to block the flow of food aid:
At least two civilians were killed and more than a dozen wounded in the confrontation with security forces in the Gran Sabana area, along Venezuela’s southeast border with Brazil, according to Américo de Grazia, an opposition lawmaker from the state of Bolívar. The Gran Sabana area is inhabited by the Pemón, an indigenous community…
Ricardo Delgado, a Pemón leader, said the tensions that led to the confrontation began in the predawn hours when a convoy from the Army and the National Guard attempted to reach a checkpoint on the border to help protect it. A group of indigenous protesters blocked their passage, because they want the aid to come in.
Mr. Delgado said he told convoy officers that they could not pass, and they left. But hours later, he said, the convoy returned, this time shooting at the indigenous group blocking the streets.
Maduro has said he’s refusing the food aid because Venezuelans are not “beggars.” According to the Times, the protesters seen in this video are singing, “They are killing us with hunger.”
— Natxel De Jesús (@NJMS13) February 22, 2019
And here’s an image of two of the people shot by security forces:
Picture of 2 of the Pemones tribesmen shot by the Venezuelan army in Gran Sabana this morning,they were transferred to hospital in Santa Elena de Uairén but due to a lack of supplies they will reportedly be taken across the border into Brazil to a hospital in Boa Vista#Venezuela pic.twitter.com/aGGp1rngJg
— CNW (@ConflictsW) February 22, 2019
Notice these men had to be taken to hospitals in Brazil. Today, Maduro posted this absurd propaganda video with text that reads, “We are making every effort to make the national public health system not stop and rise to the highest level in the world. A human effort that is only possible with the Bolivarian Revolution. Love with Love is paid!”
Estamos haciendo todos los esfuerzos para que el Sistema Público Nacional de Salud no se detenga y se eleve al más alto nivel en el mundo. Un esfuerzo humano que solo es posible con la Revolución Bolivariana. ¡Amor con Amor se paga! pic.twitter.com/5KdpPLe02e
— Nicolás Maduro (@NicolasMaduro) February 22, 2019
In reality, CNN reported back in 2016 that children were dying in Venezuelan hospitals from a lack of medical supplies. The AP reported about a 3-year-old girl who spent two months in a disgusting hospital overrun with roaches and wild dogs after she scraped her knee. The shortages of food and medicine are so severe that millions of Venezuelans have already fled the country and millions more have struggled to survive what has been called “the Maduro diet.”
Despite this, there are still a number of wealthy socialists demanding that the U.S. stop interfering in Venezuela. Just yesterday, socialist Bernie Sanders who never met a left-wing dictator he didn’t like, refused to call Maduro a dictator.
Today, just across the border with Colombia, a benefit concert is taking place. The concert was arranged by billionaire Richard Branson in an attempt to put a spotlight on the Venezuelan crisis. From the AP:
A benefit concert on the Colombian border with Venezuela has kicked off with an artist singing a song about her personal struggles as a migrant.
Strumming her ukulele, Reymar Perdomo on Friday sang “I Left,” which has become the unofficial anthem of Venezuelans fleeing their country’s economic and political crisis.
Near where the concert is taking place, the U.S. has already delivered 200 tons of food aid. The question now is whether Juan Guaidó can get that across the border or if Maduro’s troops will succeed in forcing people to continue starving for the good of the Bolivarian Revolution. At some point soon, the rank and file police and soldiers are going to have to say enough is enough and defy their commanders.
Update: Apparently Venezuela has cut off “the entire internet” to prevent people from watching the concert.
#Breaking: Just in – #Venezuela has cut off the entire internet access from the outside world and cable TV services for preventing to be able to watch the #VenezuelaAidLive concert in #Colombia right now! pic.twitter.com/6MSXC4X6x4
— Sotiri Dimpinoudis (@sotiridi) February 22, 2019
Confirmation from @netblocks that Venezuelan authorities are blocking internet access to YouTube, Bing and Google to coincide with the #VenezuelaAidLive concert #Venezuela #22Feb https://t.co/jkYFWJIZwI
— In Venezuela (@invenezuelablog) February 22, 2019