4. Violent Protests Have Broken Out in the Streets
Protesters – desperate for food and freedom – have been taking to the streets in Venezuela since April 2017 in hopes that Maduro would resign. According to the Guardian, tens of thousands of opposition party Venezuelans took to the streets in a nationwide protest on February 2, 2019, to urge the newly re-elected Maduro to step down.
Reportedly, the protesters hoped they could maintain pressure on Maduro after self-proclaimed interim president Juan Guaidówas widely recognized as legitimate at the end of January on the International stage. So far, Maduro has not indicated that he will be ceding his position to Guaidó.
Instead, just days after the nationwide protest and less than one month after Guaidó proclaimed himself president, Maduro blocked all humanitarian aid from coming into the country, NPR reports. According to the BBC, Maduro said Venezuela would not be accepting the aid because it has “never been, nor are we, a country of beggars.”
On February 6, United States Secretary of State Mike Pompeo shared a photo on Twitter of the roads and bridges in Venezuela being blocked off from aid. He wrote, “The Venezuelan people desperately need humanitarian aid. The U.S. & other countries are trying to help, but Venezuela's military under Maduro's orders is blocking aid with trucks and shipping tankers. The Maduro regime must LET THE AID REACH THE STARVING PEOPLE."
The Venezuelan people have yet to be allowed access to the aid being flown and driven into the country and in late February 2019, conflict broke out between protesters and Maduro’s military. On February 23, four people were killed and hundreds injured as opposition party members tried to breach government blockades in order to obtain food and medical supplies being withheld from them. According to the Guardian, 60 border guards have defected to Colombia and renounced Maduro.
Guaidó was set to meet with U.S. Vice President Mike Pence on Monday to discuss a new strategy to end the conflict. Following this meeting Pence announced that the U.S. would be placing more sanctions on the Latin American country. He also revealed that the United States would be providing $56 million in aid to the Venezuelan people, ABC News reports.
Photo courtesy: Getty Images/Edilzon Gamez/Stringer