CUCUTA, Colombia (AP) — The Latest on the political crisis in Venezuela (all times local):
Venezuela’s National Guard has fired tear gas on residents clearing a barricaded border bridge between Venezuela and Colombia to let humanitarian aid pass through.
The tensions flared at dawn Saturday at the blocked entrance of the Francisco de Paula Santander bridge on the Venezuelan border town of Urena.
Opposition leader Juan Guaido has vowed to bring humanitarian aid across into Venezuela from Colombia over objections from President Nicolas Maduro.
Venezuelan officials have ordered the border with Colombia closed after already shutting down crossings from Brazil and the island of Curacao, other points of entry for the aid.
But the residents in Urena have defied government orders and began removing yellow metal barricades and barbed wire.
Hundreds of Venezuelans have camped out overnight near a bridge in Colombia where humanitarian aid that the opposition will try to deliver inside the country is being stored.
Oriana Gutierrez says she traveled 14 hours to attend Friday’s concert organized by billionaire Richard Branson and wanted to stay through the following day to help bring in aid.
Early Saturday some Venezuelans were singing their national anthem while others held hands in a prayer circle and asked God to protect their country.
President Nicolas Maduro has refused to accept the food and medical supplies donated largely by the United States, saying it’s part of a larger plot to unseat him from power.
The opposition is planning to push in the aid using trucks and masses of people along border bridges connecting Colombia to Venezuela.
Venezuelans frustrated over their nation’s crippling food and medical shortages are expected to join opposition leaders Saturday in a potentially risky push to deliver international aid that Nicolas Maduro has refused to accept into the country.
The opposition is calling on masses of Venezuelans to help trucks carrying the nearly 200 metric tons of humanitarian assistance delivered largely by the United States over the last two weeks across several border bridges in Colombia.
Once the trucks reach the border they’ll face a crucial test: Whether the military standing guard on the other side will let them through.
Before daybreak Saturday, many national guards in riot gear forced people to move away from the road to the Simon Bolivar bridge connecting Venezuela and Colombia. The Venezuelan government had said that it was closing three of its bridges on the border.