CARACAS – National Assembly speaker Juan Guaido, who swore in as Venezuela’s interim president on Jan. 23, announced on Tuesday that the humanitarian aid being stockpiled abroad will begin entering the country on Feb. 23.
“So, we’re announcing that Feb. 23 will be the day for the entry of the humanitarian aid, and so from today we will work with all sectors – transportation workers, nurses” who must introduce and distribute the aid, Guaido said at the close of a rally in Caracas.
The United States, which rushed to recognize Guaido’s claim to the presidency, is organizing the aid effort, which elected head of state Nicolas Maduro denounces as a prelude to military intervention by Washington.
The 35-year-old opposition leader said that next weekend assemblies will be held and “humanitarian camps” will be established with an eye toward organizing and preparing everyone who has volunteered to help distribute the aid to go to the country’s border with Colombia if the military does not allow the aid to be brought in.
“We have to go in caravans, in protests, in mobilizations,” he said.
Since last week, the Colombian border city of Cucuta has been warehousing donations provided by the neighboring country, the US and others for Venezuela.
The opposition leader thanked the international community for the support and the donations it has provided and told Venezuela’s military that “you will have several days to put yourselves on the side of the Constitution and humanity to allow the entry (of the aid) and access (to it).”
During the same speech, Guaido ruled out the possibility of civil war in Venezuela.
“You (government supporters) talk about an alleged war that will not exist,” he said. “Who would be ready to go to war if (Maduro) has neither the support or the respect of his neighbors and the world?” he asked.
Maduro and the No. 2 person in the ruling leftist PSUV party, Diosdado Cabello, have insisted on numerous occasions that there is a risk that Venezuela could slide into civil war and have said that, if a foreign intervention occurs, the country would become “a Latin American Vietnam” for the US.
Guaido, however, said “That threat of a fake war is (designed) to intimidate.”
“So, no. It’s not true, when 90 percent of the population wants change, there is nobody who can stop it,” Guaido emphasized.
“Who’s going to sacrifice himself for Maduro? No-one, absolutely no-one. Meanwhile, we’re recruiting volunteers (to distribute the humanitarian aid). In less than 24 hours, 250,000 volunteers have been registered,” he said.
Polls show Maduro with an approval rating of under 30 percent. At the same time, fewer than 20 percent of Venezuelans had heard of Guaido before he swore in as acting president.
Eighty-six percent of respondents in a recent survey said that they opposed foreign military intervention and 81 percent were against the economic sanctions Washington has imposed on Venezuela with the aim of toppling Maduro.
“There’s no possibility of a people-against-people confrontation,” Guaido said Monday in an interview with EFE. “Maduro is isolated, he’s alone. He has no popular support, he has no ideological grouping around him.”
Guaido has been recognized as Venezuela’s interim president by a score of European nations, including Spain, Portugal, Germany, France and the United Kingdom, as well as by the US, Canada, Colombia, Brazil and many other countries.
The assembly leader has repeatedly said that the May 20, 2018, elections – in which Maduro handily won re-election although key opposition figures were barred from running against him and which are not recognized by a large portion of the international community – were fraudulent.