published 2019-02-23 10:26:34 by Anna Hopkins
At least three Venezuelan troops have abandoned their posts at the country’s border with Colombia as confrontations with protesters over incoming humanitarian aid grow more violent by the day.
The soldiers have abandoned their watch near the Simon Bolivar International Bridge at the Venezuela-Colombian border near Urena, where the Venezuelan National Guard fired tear gas at residents on Saturday, BBC reports.
Earlier in the day, at least two people were reportedly killed by Venezuelan forces near the Brazilian border.
Rising tensions have erupted in chaos amid opposition leader and self-declared President Juan Guaido’s decision to lead a caravan with thousands of volunteers to the Colombian border to collect humanitarian aid of food and medicine.
On Thursday, President Nicolas Maduro announced that he planned to close Venezuela’s border with Brazil “totally and completely” to stop the import of humanitarian aid from foreign countries, namely the United States. He added that he would close the border between Colombia if necessary.
Maduro argued that foreign aid was unnecessary and an attempt by the United States to undermine his authority. The United States has vocalized support for Maduro’s opposition, while Maduro has received support from countries such as Russia, Cuba and China.
“What the U.S. empire is doing with its puppets is an internal provocation,” Maduro said. “They wanted to generate a great national commotion, but they didn’t achieve it.”