CARACAS: Desperately needed aid being stockpiled at Venezuela’s door is at the heart of a political duel between the two men fighting to lead the oil-rich nation: Juan Guaido and Nicolas Maduro.
Guaido, recognized as Venezuela’s interim president by around 50 countries, has pressed the all-critical military to allow the mostly American humanitarian aid to reach the most vulnerable population, or around 300,000 people.
Maduro insists the shortages plaguing the country are caused by Washington’s punitive sections, and he has vowed to stop the “spectacle of fake humanitarian aid.”
The aid “is at the heart of the struggle between two pillars of power,” political scientist Luis Salamanca told the Media.
“This struggle is playing out as concerns the future of the armed forces. Guaido is trying to get the military on his side, while Maduro tries to keep it behind him.”
Using a tanker truck, two container trucks and barriers, the army has been blocking the Tienditas border bridge since Thursday.
Several hundred meters (yards) from there on the Colombia side are the hangars where the emergency aid is being stockpiled.
For John Magdaleno of the Polity consultancy, the confrontation between the two men is a “major event” that “is inevitably leading toward an escalation” between the government and the opposition, as well as between Maduro and the countries supporting his adversary.
“In the end, it’s in the hand of the United States. They are the ones who can use force,” Magdaleno said.
President Donald Trump’s administration, which has insisted that “all options are on the table” — has frozen the accounts of Venezuelan leaders and unveiled fresh sanctions to bar Maduro from accessing revenues from oil his country sells in the US.
Before possibly resorting to force, Washington is exploring “all other options” first, Magdeleno said, adding that “this chapter on humanitarian aid foreshadows a far more significant escalation that could trigger a military intervention.”
However, Assistant Secretary of State for Western Hemisphere Affairs Kimberly Breier has insisted that the US has no intention of entering Venezuelan territory by force to distribute food and medicine.
The United Nations said it’s ready to send emergency aid to Venezuela, but only if Caracas agrees.
“Humanitarian aid should never be used as a political pawn,” UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric said Thursday.
Venezuela has faced a major political and economic crisis in recent years. Expropriations have hurt industry and oil production, which finances 96 percent of the national budget, thus reducing imports of basic goods.
More than 80 percent of medicine and medical equipment are missing in a country that has the world’s largest proven oil reserves, according to the pharmaceutical federation. There are constant cuts of basic services such as water and electricity.
Maduro accuses the United States of setting up an “international coalition… to intervene militarily in Venezuela under the pretext of a non-existing humanitarian crisis.”
For the National Assembly’s former president and opposition lawmaker Henry Ramos Allup, the government’s refusal to allow humanitarian aid to enter the country “reveals once more to the world the regime’s human rights violations.”
The anti-Maduro camp has also denounced the regime’s decision — while Venezuela grapples with such a dire situation — to send 100 tonnes of humanitarian aid to Cuba to assist the communist island in the wake of a recent hurricane.
The government faces a “strategic dilemma” because “regardless of its decision, it loses,” Magdaleno said.
If Maduro relents and allows the aid in, this means he finally acknowledges that there is, in fact a humanitarian crisis.
“Maduro is going to put his foot down. It doesn’t matter much anymore to him. He is playing a game that seems to be entering its last phase,” which threatens his hold on power, said Salamanca.
India divertig attention from Spy’s case?
ISLAMABAD: Minister for Water Resources Faisal Vawda has termed the Indian threat to stop the flow of water from eastern rivers to Pakistan a “failed attempt”, just like the Pulwama incident, to divert attention from its failure in the Kulbhushan Jadhav case in International Court of Justice (ICJ).
In his reaction over India’s threat to stop Pakistan’s water, he said India could not blame Pakistan for its failure in the International Court of Justice to prove spy Kulbhushan innocent. As per Indus Water Treaty, India could not stop Pakistan’s water, he added, says a press statement here on Friday.
Describing the threat hilarious and void, he said the Indian government was preparing the ground to seek public support in next election by hurling allegation against Pakistan. “India must keep it in mind that it is a New Pakistan,” Vawda said adding that valiant Armed Forces of Pakistan would give a befitting response if India launched any misadventure. He said India would get nothing from its war hysteria except embarrassment among the comity of the nations.
Brexit: 9th MP leaves Labour in a week!
LONDON: The Labour party contingency of Britain’s parliament lost more blood Friday, with a ninth MP leaving Labour in less than a week, blasting alleged anti-Semitism in the party leadership.
Ian Austin, representing Dudley North in the West Midlands, chose the local paper Express and Star to make his announcement, in a guest op-ed slamming the party as “broken.” Citing the alleged anti-Semitism in the party, Austin said he was “appalled at the offense and distress [leader] Jeremy Corbyn and the Labour party have caused to Jewish people.”
“I always tell them the truth and I could never ask local people to make Jeremy Corbyn prime minister,” he said. “It is terrible that a culture of extremism, antisemitism, and intolerance is driving out good MPs and decent people who have committed their life to mainstream politics,” he wrote. He said that he had not spoken to the new Independent Group, now made up of eight Labour MPs and three former Conservative MPs.
“The hard left is now in charge of the party, they’re going to get rid of lots of decent mainstream MPs and I just can’t see how it can return to the mainstream party that won elections and changed the country for the better,” Austin said. He added, “I think the Labour party is broken and clearly things have to change but that’s not what today is about, and I’ve not talked to them about that.”
A Labour spokesman said the party “regrets” Austin quitting, adding, “He was elected as a Labour MP and so the democratic thing is to resign his seat and let the people of Dudley decide who should represent them.” Earlier this week, amid the continuing chaos over Brexit, a group of seven MPs resigned from Labour and said they would stay in parliament as independent lawmakers, followed soon thereafter by an eighth. Three Conservative MPs also resigned their party this week to join the Independent Group.
China, Laos to promote people-to-people ties
VIENTIANE: A visiting Chinese delegation has reached agreements with its Lao counterpart to promote the people-to-people exchanges during talks.
At the invitation of the Lao Committee for Peace and Solidarity, Gao Yunlong, vice chairman of the 13th National Committee of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference, visited Laos from Wednesday to Friday.
During his visit, Gao held working-level talks with Somphan Phengkhammy, the deputy president of Lao National Assembly and president of the Lao Committee for Peace and Solidarity. Both sides agreed to treasure traditional friendship, to promote people-to-people communication and jointly build a community of shared future.
Gao also met the Lao People’s Revolutionary Party (LPRP) politburo member and National Assembly President Pany Yathotou, LPRP politburo member and President of Lao Front for National Development Saysomphone Phomvihane, and Sounthone Xayachack, head of the Lao People’s Revolutionary Party (LPRP) Central Committee’s Commission for external relations.