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Venezuelan Opposition Accused of Torching Warehouse Storing Humanitarian Aid From Mexico

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Venezuelan authorities have accused the country’s opposition of starting a fire at a warehouse in the port city of La Guaira in the state of Vargas, which was storing vital aid from Mexico that had arrived just days earlier.

The fire broke out early Wednesday morning before firefighters extinguished the blaze.

Government officials described the incident as a result of “terrorism” by opposition members. The blaze ripped through facilities belonging to the Local Committees for Supply and Production (CLAP), the program responsible for distributing subsidized food in Venezuela.

“We have no doubt that these are the acts committed by terrorists, these are their criminal hands that encroach on the food of our people,” Vargas state Governor Garcia Carneiro told reporters at a press conference, noting that investigators are still working to pinpoint the exact cause of the fire.

The warehouse affected was storing food aid that had been delivered from Mexico just days before, including such basic staples as pasta, flour, milk, and lentils. The country has been coping with the humanitarian impact of a bruising U.S.-led economic war.

Vice President Delcy Rodriguez took to social media to denounce the act, tweeting:

“This morning the extremist right set fire to a CLAP packaging center. That is the humanitarian aid they want for the people: violence and destruction! Pres. @NicolasMaduro has already given instructions to immediately replenish the food for the people! Venezuela will win.”

https://twitter.com/DrodriguezVen/status/1100838734453448705

The fire broke out mere days after opposition members led by self-declared “interim president” Juan Gauido attempted to infiltrate Venezuela’s border with alleged U.S. aid trucks from Brazil and Colombia, whose right-wing governments have strongly backed Washington’s campaign to topple the country’s elected president, Nicolas Maduro.

The Port of La Guaira was among the main sites identified by Guaido as a target for opposition takeover in its effort to ensure that the so-called “aid” arrive by land, air, and sea.

Opposition plans backfired on February 23, however, as Venezuela’s military maintained its allegiance to the legitimate government – save for a few national guardsmen who rammed armored cars through crowds in an attempt to flee the country – and opposition-led riots at the Colombian-Venezuelan border ended with at least one aid truck consumed by the flames of Molotov cocktails.

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In numerous videos, opposition protesters assisted by Colombian police can be seen attacking Venezuelan security personnel with stones, improvised PVC pipe bazookas, and firebombs.

While the much talked-about aid was rumored by media outlets to contain essential medicines for sick Venezuelans, New York Times reporter Anatoly Kurmanaev has cast doubt on whether the USAID provisions contained any medicine at all, as it largely consisted of basic food packets and personal hygiene products.

Fearing arrest, Guaido has been hiding out in the Colombian capital, Bogota, where he is largely powerless save for the support of some Venezuelan diplomats who defected to the opposition, as well as the recognition of the United States and its junior partners.

International organizations like the Red Cross and United Nations have blasted Washington for politicizing humanitarian assistance rather than delivering aid through the proper channels, with the consent and coordination of Caracas.

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