USA military planes carry 180 tons of aid for Venezuelans

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But even as the political battle pitting Guaido against Maduro continued to deepen, Caracas confirmed talks had taken place with an envoy for U.S. President Donald Trump's administration.

On January 23 Venezuelan National Assembly Speaker Juan Guaido proclaimed himself as the country's acting president.

A view of food suplements packs after U.S. Air Force aircrafts carrying humanitarian aid for Venezuela landed at Camilo Daza International Airport in Cucuta, February 16, 2019.

Juan Guaido, the Venezuelan opposition leader who has proclaimed himself the country's interim president, announced the establishment of a new center for the collection of humanitarian aid for Venezuela in the USA city of Miami.

"This wasn't the first, and it won't be the last", Mark Green, administrator of USAID, said of the aid in Cucuta. "More is on the way".

Previous aid shipments came on commercial planes.

Critics of Maduro say his re-election previous year was fraudulent, making the president's second term illegitimate.

Venezuelan Defense Minister Vladimir Padrino Lopez has accused opposition leaders of supporting a foreign military intervention in the country, the defense ministry said on Friday.

"They hang us, steal our money and then say "here, grab these crumbs" and make a global show out of it", Maduro told Associated Press news agency on Thursday.

"They hang us, steal our money and then say "here, grab these crumbs" and make a global show out of it", Maduro told The Associated Press on Thursday, in reference to how the USA has hurt his government financially.

His vice-president has alleged, without evidence, that the aid packages are contaminated.

"Venezuela is preparing for the humanitarian avalanche", Guaido told about 4,000 supporters clad in white T-shirts and green scarves who gathered Saturday to sign up as volunteers.

Saturday's 180-tonne shipment includes high-energy food products and hygiene kits of soap, toothpaste and other goods for more than 25,000 people.

In the crowd was Anibrez Peroza, a 40-year-old nurse, who said she was ready if necessary to go to Cucuta in a caravan to bring in the aid.

The socialist leader insists the aid is just a cover for a planned USA military invasion, while Guaido says 300,000 people could die without the desperately-needed aid. Peroza wept as she described a dehydrated child dying in her arms for lack of a catheter to rehydrate him.

Most Western countries and many of Venezuela's neighbours have recognized Guaido as the legitimate head of state, while Maduro retains the backing of Russian Federation and China and control of Venezuelan state institutions, including the military. Scores of Venezuelan officials also face personal financial sanctions in the United States.

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