US Sen. Rubio warns Venezuela’s Maduro not to act against opposition

US Sen. Rubio warns Venezuela’s Maduro not to act against opposition
US senator Marco Rubio addresses the press on the humanitarian aid shipments sent by the US government for Venezuela that are stockpiled at a collection center in the Colombian border, at the Simon Bolivar international bridge in Cucuta, Colombia on February 17, 2019. (AFP / Luis Robayo)
Updated 18 February 2019

US Sen. Rubio warns Venezuela’s Maduro not to act against opposition

US Sen. Rubio warns Venezuela’s Maduro not to act against opposition
  • Venezuelan President Maduro is refusing to allow in the food, medicine and other supplies donated by the US
  • Rubio was part of a US delegation visiting the Colombian border city of Cucuta, where humanitarian aid is being stockpiled

CUCUTA, Colombia: US Senator Marco Rubio, visiting the Colombia-Venezuela border on Sunday, warned Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro of severe consequences if he takes action against the country’s opposition leader and self-declared president or US citizens.
In a televised interview, Rubio declined to say if he would support US military action against Venezuela, which is mired in a political and economic crisis.
But the Republican senator said he was confident that US President Donald Trump’s administration would not stand by if the Venezuelan government harmed or imprisoned opposition leader Juan Guaido, who declared himself interim president last month.
“There are certain lines and Maduro knows what they are,” Rubio, a senator from Florida seen as an influential voice on Venezuela policy in Washington, told CNN. “The consequences will be severe and they will be swift.”
Rubio also warned Maduro against harming US personnel working in the country and said the United States would also respond if aide workers were targeted.
The senator was part of a US delegation visiting the Colombian border city of Cucuta, where humanitarian aid is being stockpiled for planned delivery to Venezuela.
While Maduro is refusing to allow in the food, medicine and other supplies, Guaido has vowed to move hundreds of tons of the aid into the country on Saturday.
Guaido has said he will announce details on Monday of how he plans to get the aid into the country from Colombia, Brazil and Curacao, despite Maduro’s opposition.
The Feb. 23 deadline sets the stage for a showdown with Maduro, who calls the aid a US-orchestrated show and denies any crisis despite many Venezuelans’ scant access to food and medicine. It is unclear whether the military will allow aid to cross the border.
Most Western countries and many of Venezuela’s neighbors have recognized Guaido as the legitimate head of state after Maduro won a second term in an election last year that critics denounced as a sham. Maduro retains the backing of Russia and China and control of Venezuelan state institutions including the military.
The US delegation included Carlos Trujillo, the US ambassador to the Organization of American States, and Republican US Representative Mario Diaz-Balart of Florida.