President Donald Trump has warned the Venezuelan military not to block tonnes of humanitarian aid due to arrive in the country on Saturday, threatening the soldiers with grave consequences for remaining loyal to President Nicolas Maduro.
“Today I have a message for every official who is keeping Maduro in place,” he said, speaking at a university in Miami – the city with the highest population of Venezuelan exiles in the US.
“You cannot hide from the choice that now confronts you. You can choose to accept President Guaido’s offer of amnesty, and live your life in peace with your country. But you must not block humanitarian aid.
“Or you can choose the second path; continuing to support Maduro. You will find no safe harbour, no easy exit, no way out. You will lose everything.”
Mr Maduro has said the tonnes of aid, coordinated by his rival, self-declared “interim president” Juan Guaido, was designed to humiliate the country, and act as cover for an invasion. He has ordered the armed forces to block the aid coming in from Colombia and Brazil, and stationed troops on the border to prevent the assistance from being delivered.
But Mr Trump, the first of around 50 world leaders to recognise Mr Guaido, told the crowd that “my heart is in Venezuela”, and urged the Venezuelan soldiers to ignore Mr Maduro’s orders, and allow the aid to enter the troubled country.