Venezuela has shut a key maritime border and grounded flights as the Washington-backed coup-leader Juan Guaido has said that foreign aid will enter Venezuela from neighboring countries by land and sea on Saturday.
CNN reports that a government representative confirmed Venezuela has closed its maritime border with Aruba, Curacao, and Bonaire and, in the Western state of Falcon, prevented flights leaving from or departing to those islands.
President Maduro has rejected offers of foreign food and medicine, denying there are widespread shortages and accusing Guaido of using aid to undermine his government in a U.S.-orchestrated bid to oust him.
In comments broadcast on state TV, Defense Minister Vladimir Padrino said the opposition would have to pass over “our dead bodies” to impose a new government. Guaido, who has invoked the constitution to assume an interim presidency, denounces Maduro as illegitimate and has received backing from some 50 countries.
Padrino said it was unacceptable for the military to receive threats from Trump, and said officers and soldiers remained “obedient and subordinate” to Maduro.
“They will never accept orders from any foreign government … they will remain deployed and alert along the borders, as our commander in chief has ordered, to avoid any violations of our territory’s integrity,” Padrino said.
“Those that attempt to be president here in Venezuela … will have to pass over our dead bodies,” he said, referring to what he called Guaido’s efforts to create a “puppet government.”
Additionally, Thomson reports that Cuba denied on Tuesday it has security forces in Venezuela (after the Trump administration made claims):
“Our government categorically and energetically rejects this slander,” Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez said at a Havana press conference, adding all of the some 20,000 Cubans in Venezuela were civilians, most health professionals.
Rodriguez called on the U.S. administration to produce proof.
“The accusation by the US President that Cuba maintains a private army in Venezuela is despicable. I demand that you present evidence.
“There is a big political and communications campaign underway which are usually the prelude to larger actions by this government,” Rodriguez said.
Rodriguez termed the political crisis in Venezuela “a failed imperialist coup … fabricated in Washington,” and warned plans to deliver humanitarian aid were a recipe for violence and intervention.
“We are all witnesses in the making of humanitarian pretexts. A deadline has been set for forcing the entry of humanitarian aid,” Rodriguez said.
U.S. President Donald Trump on Monday warned members of Venezuela’s military who remain loyal to Maduro that they would “find no safe harbor, no easy exit and no way out.”
“You’ll lose everything,” Trump told a crowd of Venezuelan and Cuban immigrants in Miami.