The United States on Monday requested an urgent meeting of the U.N. Security Council on Venezuela after violence erupted at the weekend over an opposition bid to bring in humanitarian aid, diplomats said.
The meeting is expected to take place on Tuesday and be held in open session, according to diplomats.
Four people died in clashes over the weekend on Venezuela’s border with Brazil between security forces and civilians seeking to bring in aid. Several hundred more were injured in violence at the borders with Colombia and Brazil.
U.S. Vice President Mike Pence traveled to Colombia on Monday and told opposition leader and self-declared interim president Juan Guaido that “we are with you 100 percent.”
“We hope for a peaceful transition to democracy. But President Trump has made it clear: all options are on the table,” Pence said.
In an apparent threat to President Nicolas Maduro On Sunday, Florida Senator Marco Rubio, an outspoken supporter of Guaido and the opposition, tweeted side-by-side pictures of former Libyan Dictator Muammar Gaddafi – one before a U.S.-backed coalition ousted him from power and one in which he is badly bleeding shortly before being brutally murdered by a mob.
BACKING GUAIDO: Vice Pres. Mike Pence traveled to Colombia to meet Juan Guaidó, Venezuela’s U.S.-backed opposition leader, as the Trump administration pushes for the ouster of Pres. Nicolás Maduro after a weekend of deadly clashes. https://t.co/QlMlBvImq4 pic.twitter.com/y3GX18y6e7
— World News Tonight (@ABCWorldNews) February 25, 2019
The U.S. is leading a push to recognize Guaido, backed by about 50 countries including Britain, France, Germany and several Latin American nations such as Brazil, Argentina, and Colombia.
Russia and China, however, continue to back President Nicolas Maduro along with Mexico and Bolivia, setting up a global split that has left the United Nations in a quandary.
‘Crime Against Humnaity’
The so-called “Lima group” – a bloc of 14 mostly Latin American countries opposed to the Maduro government – urged the International Criminal Court on Monday to declare the blocking of aid a “crime against humanity.”
Though Maduro has blockaded Venezuela’s borders with Colombia and Brazil and refused to accept aid from the United States, some humanitarian aid from Russia and other international agencies has been admitted.
The Red Cross and the U.N. have also refused to participate in attempts led by the U.S. to bring aid into Venezuela, saying the efforts are politically motivated.
The Lima group also backed a democratic resolution to the conflict that will not involve the use of force.
Venezuela’s economy is in a tailspin marked by hyperinflation and shortages of basic necessities that the opposition blames on corruption and mismanagement by the Maduro government.
Maduro, in turn, has blamed U.S. sanctions for the country’s economic woes.
Millions of Venezuelans have been left struggling with poverty, while 2.7 million have fled the country since 2015, unleashing a migration crisis in South America.
More on the Subject
The U.S. State Department announced on Thursday that Special Envoy Elliott Abrams will travel via military aircraft to the Colombian border with Venezuela as tensions over the country’s political crisis and the blocking of aid shipments continue to escalate.
On Friday, two people were reportedly killed and 15 were wounded by Venezuelan troops enforcing a blockade on the border with Brazil, which was ordered closed by embattled President Nicolas Maduro on Thursday.
U.S. officials have slammed Maduro for blocking American aid shipments from entering Venezuela as the country continues to face food and medicine shortages and cases of malnutrition caused by the country’s severe economic crisis, which has reportedly caused more than three million people to leave the country in recent years.
The United Nations and the Red Cross, however, have said the U.S. aid shipments are “politically motivated” and have refused to participate in efforts to bring the aid into Venezuela.