One Dead at Venezuela-Brazil Border After Troops Open Fire
Two civilians were killed and several others were injured in the town of Kumarakapay, Venezuela located near the border of Brazil.
This marks the first clash related to the Venezuelan opposition’s plan to deliver humanitarian aid to citizens, as President Maduro vowed not to accept it. The death occurred as security forces fired on a group of indigenous Venezuelans. The members of the Pemon ethnic group protested the Venezuela National Guard who were moving tanks to the border.
The confrontation occurred one day after President Nicolás Maduro ordered all crossings at the Venezuela-Brazil border to be closed.
The violence occurred just hours before two concerts were expected to begin on Venezuela's Western border with Colombia, where donated food is being stored.
On Colombia’s side of the border, nicknamed by Colombian officials as the “unity bridge,” billionaire Richard Branson is sponsoring a concert featuring musicians, including Latin rock star Juanes. On the other side, Maduro’s government is organizing a festival named “hands of Venezuela.”
Allies of Juan Guaidó are hoping the concert organized by Branson and the aid given by Colombia will serve as a turning point for Maduro’s government. The President, however, has shown no signs of stepping down from his role.
The political opposition, led by Juan Guaidó, the head of Venezuela’s National Assembly declared himself president last month. He has the backing of foreign allies, led by the United States, and has vowed to forcibly bring in aid this weekend.
The U.S. played a large part in the donation of aid, which has been sitting in a storage facility at the Tienditas International Bridge for two weeks. Maduro denies a crisis is taking place, even as millions of Venezuelans are fleeing.
Maduro insists aid is a ploy by the Trump administration to overthrow his government. “Trump should worry about the poor in his own country,” Maduro said this week.
According to the New York Times, Ricardo Delgado, a Pemón leader, said the tensions that led to the confrontation began in the early morning hours. The Army and the National Guard tried to get to a checkpoint on the border, but a group of indigenous protesters blocked their passage as they want the aid to come in.
Mr. Delgado said he told convoy officers that they could not pass, and they left. Hours later, he said, the convoy returned, this time shooting at the indigenous group blocking the streets.
Jason Marczak, director of the Adrienne Arsht Latin America Center at the Atlantic Council, a Washington-based policy research group, called it a “critical moment.”
Commenting on the shooting at the border, Mr. Marczak said: “Any violence against innocent civilians seeking aid should be met by the full force of international law.”