Small Wars Journal

Two Dead After Venezuelan Soldiers Open Fire on Opposition Supporters

Fri, 02/22/2019 - 5:58pm

Two Dead After Venezuelan Soldiers Open Fire on Opposition Supporters by Anthony Faiola, Rachelle Krygier and Mariana Zuñiga – Washington Post

BREAKING: Guaidó’s trip — ahead of Saturday’s effort to bring his country humanitarian aid stored in Colombia — defies a travel ban issued by Venezuela’s Supreme Court and risks him being blocked from re-entry or arrested upon return. This is a developing story.


SAN CRISTOBAL, Venezuela — Venezuelan soldiers opened fire on a group of civilians attempting to keep open a segment of the southern border with Brazil for deliveries of humanitarian aid, causing multiple injuries and the first fatalities of a massive opposition operation meant to deliver international relief to this devastated South American country, according to eyewitnesses and community leaders.


The violence unfolded as the United States and the government of embattled President Nicolás Maduro defused at least one immediate source of tension — a looming deadline on Monday for all American and Venezuelan diplomats to respectively depart Caracas and Washington. The agreement bought both sides more time to negotiate a longer-term diplomatic presence after the rupture of official relations last month.


Yet the assault raised concerns of further violence as the opposition sought on Saturday to defy Maduro’s blockade of humanitarian aid donated by nations including the United States and stored in neighboring countries. Though meant to relieve mounting hunger and disease in this collapsing socialist state, the move is also meant to test the military’s loyalty to Maduro by encouraging the armed forces to disobey his government’s direct order to keep the aid out.


Friday’s fatalities did not come on the western border, where global attention was focused amid a star-studded benefit concert for Venezuela in the Colombian city of Cúcuta, where co-organizer and British billionaire Richard Branson led a crowd of more than 200,000 revelers. Instead, it happened in the desperately poor Amazonian savanna near Brazil…

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