Venezuela Crisis: Army blocks American aid trucks at Colombian border
The United States has presented a draft resolution at the United Nations Security Council calling for international aid deliveries and a presidential vote in Venezuela, triggering a Russian counter-proposal.
While no date has yet been set for a vote on the American draft, and negotiations are ongoing, Russia is likely to use its veto power to block it as part of its support of Nicolas Maduro's regime, diplomats said.
The text, a copy of which was obtained by AFP on Saturday, expresses "full support for the National Assembly as the only democratically elected institution in Venezuela."
The legislative body's chairman, Juan Guaido, has declared himself interim president of Venezuela, challenging Maduro's rule.
Juan Guaido calls for Venezuelans to unite over the entry of humanitarian aid
Hoy en todos los estados del país nos estamos organizando para exigir el ingreso de la #AyudaHumanitaria.Juan Guaidó (@jguaido) 9 février 2019
Es un gran gesto que haremos realidad gracias a la unión de todos los venezolanos y la solidaridad del mundo. #VamosBienVzla pic.twitter.com/3Hb2t3g1xo
"In all the states of Venezuela, we're getting organised to demand the entry of humanitarian aid. This huge feat will be accomplished thanks to unity amongst Venezuelans and solidarity from the world"
Concern about violence amid calls for elections
The draft resolution stresses "deep concern with the violence and excessive use of force by Venezuelan security forces against unarmed, peaceful protesters."
It also "calls for the immediate start of a political process leading to free, fair and credible presidential elections, with international electoral observation, in line with Venezuela's constitution."
The text also requests that UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres "utilize his good offices" to obtain such elections.
It also "stresses the need to prevent further deterioration of the humanitarian situation in Venezuela and to facilitate access and delivery of assistance to all in need in the entirety of the territory of Venezuela."
The Russian alternative
On Friday, Moscow proposed an alternative resolution to the American one, diplomats said.
It expresses "concern over the threats to use force against the territorial integrity and political independence of... Venezuela," according to a draft seen by AFP.
Calling for a "peaceful" resolution of the stalemate in Venezuela, it "supports all initiatives aimed at reaching a political solution amongst Venezuelans to the current situation... through a genuine and inclusive process of national dialogue."
However, a diplomat told AFP that if put to a vote, the Russian text would fail to obtain the minimum of nine votes to pass without another veto-wielding country blocking it.
Another high-ranking military official defects
An active-duty Venezuelan army colonel who is a military doctor has dropped his allegiance to President Nicolas Maduro, backing opposition leader Juan Guaido instead.
"Ninety percent of us in the armed forces are really unhappy," said Colonel Ruben Paz Jimenez said in a video released Saturday. "We are being used to keep them in power."
Humanitarian aid blocked at Colombian border
Humanitarian aid sent by the United States recently arrived in the Colombian city of Cucuta at the border with Venezuela, but Maduro has refused to let in the shipments.
Guaido said Friday he was ready to take any necessary measures, including authorizing a US military intervention, to force Maduro from power and alleviate the humanitarian crisis.