AFP: Boats With Aid for Venezuela Stranded in Curaçao After Receiving Warning

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Supporters of the Venezuelan opposition residing in the United States have moored two vessels loaded with humanitarian aid in Curaçao, desisting from the attempt to send him to his country after a warning from the navy.

The shipments are part of a wider aid campaign that seeks to assist Venezuelans suffering from shortages and put pressure on President Nicolás Maduro in the context of a very tough political confrontation.

The Midnight Stone ship, loaded with nine containers, entered the port of Willemstad, Curacao, 65 kilometers off the coast of Venezuela on Sunday, the AFP said.

Nicola Stasi, one of the supporters of the Venezuelan opposition that disembarked from the freighter, said that a frigate of the Venezuelan Navy accelerated towards the Midnight Stone when it approached Venezuelan waters on Saturday.

He added that he spoke by telephone from the ship with a Venezuelan naval commander.

It was “a respectful conversation but at one point he told me: ‘If you enter – it is recorded – you are going to be attacked,'” Stasi told AFP.

Thus “it was that we decided to act prudently” and “to turn around for the safety of the cargo and the crew”.

The Venezuelans in Curacao also loaded another 50 tons of aid in another ship, the Seven Seas.

Its captain, Carlos Quintavalle, told AFP on Sunday he will not carry the cargo to Venezuela until authorities open the border.

Boats With Aid for Venezuela Stranded in Curaçao After Receiving Warning

– Fragata vs freighter –

The attempts to bring aid by sea coincided with the opposition’s efforts to enter on Saturday the aid by land across the border of Venezuela with Colombia and Brazil, which failed after the military siege imposed by Maduro and clashes that left two dead and More than 300 injured.

Maduro, who also closed the maritime border with Curacao, called the effort to get help prompted by opposition leader Juan Guaidó a “show” and a smokescreen for a US invasion.

Despite this, the supporters of Guaidó, who proclaimed himself president in charge of Venezuela and is recognized by some 50 countries, said the Midnight Stone sailed to Venezuela with 250 tons of aid.

They added that the vessel was rented by the government of Puerto Rico, a free territory associated with the United States.

Stasi said the cargo was loaded on another ship in Puerto Rico and then transferred to the Midnight Stone in the US Virgin Islands before taking the course to Venezuela, but that at 19h30 GMT on Saturday had the encounter with the Venezuelan frigate.

The tension was high, because over the general effort to enter the aid to Venezuela flew over the prospect of an armed confrontation. The United States did not rule out a military action in Venezuela.

When the aid ship approached Venezuela, “there was already talk that if there was an attack (by the Venezuelan forces), there would be an answer in our favor,” Stasi said.

Hours later, the United States issued a severe warning about the violence that erupted during efforts to transport aid across Venezuela’s land borders.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo warned that the United States will “take action” after Maduro’s security forces suppressed protesters at the borders with Brazil and Colombia.

– Possible official help from the USA –

The Venezuelan opposition has urged the armed forces to withdraw their support to Maduro, who they accuse of “usurping” power after “fraudulent” elections and whose policies blame the crisis, marked by a serious shortage of food and medicines as well as by hyperinflation.

Maduro blames a conspiracy of the right and US sanctions for the economic situation in Venezuela.

On the other hand, the administrator of the US Agency for Development USAID, Mark Green, said last week that he visited Curacao and discussed possible cooperation with the island to channel official US aid to Venezuela.

An autonomous state within the Kingdom of the Netherlands, Curaçao houses an advance point of the United States Army that provides support for anti-drug operations in the region.

The island government emphasized that the US advance base would not play any role in any aid operation.