Venezuela’s Guaido calls for nationwide protests to allow US aid to enter

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Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaido called on Saturday for nationwide protests next week to support volunteers planning to travel to the border with Colombia to bring in US humanitarian aid.

“Not only will this be happening at the border where the volunteer movement will be, but in cities up and down the country where there will be demonstrations on February 23 for the aid to come in,” Guaido told thousands of supporters at a public gathering.

The US military airlifted tons of humanitarian aid to a Colombian town on the Venezuelan border Saturday as part of an effort meant to undermine socialist President Nicolas Maduro and back his rival for the leadership of the South American nation.

Two of three scheduled Air Force C-17 cargo planes that took off from Homestead Air Reserve Base in Florida had landed in Cucuta.

Guaido called for people to gather in cities across the country to receive humanitarian aid - and called for the armed forces to allow it into the country.

He said he has three demands: the cessation of usurpation, a transitional government and free elections.

“How much more sacrifices do we have to make to get freedom?” he told the cheering crowd.

Maduro has been using the military, which remains loyal, to help him block the aid from entering Venezuela, describing it as “crumbs” from a US government whose restrictions have stripped his administration of control over many of its most valuable assets.

Saturday’s 180-ton shipment includes high-energy food products or hygiene kinds of soap, toothpaste and other goods for more than 25,000 people.

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