CARACAS, Venezuela – With the support of Venezuela's opposition-led National Assembly, interim Presidnet Juan Guaidó is asking his network of activists to set up assemblies in their neighborhoods this weekend.
The assemblies will focus on receiving and distributing international humanitarian aid as Guaidó continues to call on the Venezuelan military to defy embattled President Nicolás Maduro's orders to block the international donations of food and medications.
"If they dare to continue blocking the way, all these volunteers will go open a humanitarian channel," Guaidó said during a speech at the Central University of Venezuela on Friday.
National Assembly members Lester Toledo and Dr. Jose Manuel Olivares, a radiation oncologist and advocate for cancer patients in Venezuela, were in Cucuta, Colombia, where aid awaits. They are among the opposition politicians who envision a powerful international mission and courageous Venezuelans who will march peacefully through the border for the aid.
Guaidó's administration is also setting up distribution centers for food and medicine in neighboring countries like Colombia and Brazil. President Donald Trump's administration is preparing to deploy more aid from Houston and Miami.
While Venezuelan political prisoners and activists continue to report human rights abuses and deaths, Maduro is calling for peace and his supporters in China are requesting talks. Guaidó said the request for talks is a strategy to stop the opposition's advance. During a speech on Friday, Maduro said the humanitarian aid is "a show" designed to humiliate Venezuelans.
Maduro also said that it was part of a macabre ploy to justify military aggression because if the U.S. really wanted to help, Trump's administration would put an end to economic sanctions and to the "persecution and aggression against Venezuela." The U.S. alleged the sanctions are in place to target high-ranking officials accused of corruption and cocaine trafficking.
Maduro made the statement after the Geneva-based Inter-Parliamentary Union urged his administration to stop the "ongoing harassment" and "intimidation" of opposition lawmakers who have allegedly faced physical attacks.
After declaring the recent presidential election a sham, the National Assembly supported Guaidó's reliance on Venezuela's 1999 Constitution to act as an interim president. The opposition lawmakers want to pave the way for new elections to weaken the grip of the United Socialist Party of Venezuela.
Guaidó also called for massive nationwide protests on Tuesday to pressure the Venezuelan military into allowing the humanitarian aid to get to the most vulnerable population in Venezuela.
OPPOSITION LEADER'S REPORT (SPANISH)