Guaido calls on armed forces to allow in aid
Venezuela's opposition leader and self-declared president Juan Guaido spoke to a crowd of supporters gathered in eastern Caracas on Saturday and vowed to continue to fight to bring in aid to his country.
Large crowds gathered wearing white t-shirts and helmets, and held large signs calling for the entry of humanitarian aid in the troubled country.
"Today we could have had planes landing in Venezuela full of humanitarian aid that on Thursday, in an unprecedented act, the largest humanitarian coalition on the planet was formed, and I send a round of applause from here to all the teams that made this event possible, Carlos Vecchio, Jose Manuel Olivares, David Smolansky (Guaido's representatives in Colombia) are representing us with dignity in the world, they collected a historic record for in fundraising event of that kind,110 million (US) dollars in humanitarian aid for Venezuela."
"And again the message to the Armed Forces of Venezuela, seven days for the humanitarian aid to come in. One week for them to do the right thing, and not just be on the side of the constitution, we are authorizing for the humanitarian aid to enter."
"For us, the decision is clear, it is irreversible, the change for us, the future and democracy and freedom is a fact, it is a guarantee, above all when we see these demonstrations of strength and organization, here the question is what to do with those, who today hijack, to the gang in Miraflores (referring to the sitting government) or some other places, how much more are they going to make our people pay (suffer), how much more sacrifices do we have to make to get freedom."
"Because the usurper (Nicolas Maduro) does not protect anyone from hunger, nor from the shortage in supplies, and he has persecuted even his own people, so the moment is now, the time is now for this aid to enter and put yourself on the side of the constitution and say very clearly (that we demand) the cessation of usurpation, a transitional government and free elections and that's an order.")
The U.S. military airlifted tons of aid to a Colombian town on the Venezuelan border on Saturday as part of an effort meant to undermine socialist President Nicolas Maduro and back his rival to leadership of the South American nation.
Two of three scheduled Air Force C-17 cargo planes that took off from Homestead Air Reserve Base in Florida had landed in Cucuta.
Guaido called for people to gather in cities across the country to receive humanitarian aid — and called for the armed forces to allow it into the country.
He said he has three demands: the cessation of usurpation, a transitional government and free elections.
"How much more sacrifices do we have to make to get freedom?" he told the cheering crowd.
Cucuta, swollen by a flood of migrants from Venezuela, is a collection point for aid that's supposed to be distributed by supporters of Guaido.
Commercial planes had been used for earlier shipments of aid, which is aimed at dramatizing the economic crisis — including hyperinflation and shortages of food and medicine — gripping Venezuela.
Critics say last year's re-election was fraudulent, making Maduro's second term illegal.
Maduro has been using the military, which remains loyal, to help him block the aid from entering Venezuela, describing it as "crumbs" from a U.S. government whose restrictions have stripped his administration of control over many of its most valuable assets.
Saturday's 180-ton shipment includes high-energy food products or hygiene kids of soap, toothpaste and other goods for more than 25,000 people.