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Border Closures, Power Outages Complicate Humanitarian Efforts In Venezuela; Aid Convoy Fire Appears To Have Been Accidentally Set By Opposition Protestor, Not Government

Devex: Venezuela border standoff strains humanitarian response in Cúcuta
“The border closure between Colombia and Venezuela is straining humanitarian response efforts as organizations on the Colombian side work to meet the needs of migrants and refugees who can no longer move freely between the two countries. The border has remained closed since the Feb. 23 effort by the opposition government of Juan Guaidó to move desperately needed humanitarian aid supplies into the country. That assistance, stockpiled by the U.S. Agency of International Development in Colombia, sits in a warehouse near one of three official crossings at bridges outside Cúcuta that remain blockaded…” (Welsh, 3/11).

New York Times: Footage Contradicts U.S. Claim That Nicolás Maduro Burned Aid Convoy
“The narrative seemed to fit Venezuela’s authoritarian rule: Security forces, on the order of President Nicolás Maduro, had torched a convoy of humanitarian aid as millions in his country were suffering from illness and hunger. Vice President Mike Pence wrote that ‘the tyrant in Caracas danced’ as his henchmen ‘burned food & medicine.’ The State Department released a video saying Mr. Maduro had ordered the trucks burned. And Venezuela’s opposition held up the images of the burning aid, reproduced on dozens of news sites and television screens throughout Latin America, as evidence of Mr. Maduro’s cruelty. But there is a problem: The opposition itself, not Mr. Maduro’s men, appears to have set the cargo alight accidentally…” (Casey et al., 3/10).

Washington Post: Rotting food and endangered patients: How Venezuelans are faring during continuing nationwide power outages
“Opposition lawmakers and aid groups warned Sunday that an unprecedented nationwide blackout in Venezuela was causing a rising number of deaths, as citizens struggled for a fourth day to find food and water and hospitals were paralyzed. ‘What Venezuelans are living today looks like a science fiction movie,’ said Juan Guaidó, the opposition leader who is spearheading a U.S.-backed campaign to oust President Nicolás Maduro. At a news conference Sunday, Guaidó said that at least 17 deaths had occurred at hospitals as a result of the outages. … It was not possible to independently confirm the reports. Venezuela’s health minister, Carlos Alvarado, said on state TV that reports of deaths linked to the power outages were ‘false.’ The government has blamed the blackout on sabotage by the U.S. government…” (Sheridan et al., 3/10).