Maduro gov’t speaks of meetings with Trump envoy
The Nicolas Maduro government said this Saturday that it has had at least two meetings with Elliot Abrams, designated by US President Donald Trump as a special United States envoy to Venezuela, though no further details have been offered about those meetings.
“We have had two meetings, about which I cannot give you further details because I must respect their confidentiality, but they have been meetings in which we listened to each other,” Venezuelan Foreign Minister Jorge Arreaza said in a statement on state television channel Telesur.
“There were moments of tension, we had very great differences, but at the same time there were concerns that we shared,” he said, and demonstrated, by showing his passport and diplomatic visa, that he had been at those meetings.
“If we have to meet with the devil himself, if we have to go to the center of the earth to speak with the devil and defend Venezuelan sovereignty and demand respect...from a government that represents the empire and the giant corporations...we will do it,” Arreaza said.
These meetings occurred amid rising diplomatic tensions between the two countries, and after Maduro cut off diplomatic ties with the United States, which does not accept his presidency and on several occasions has asked him to step down from the office he has held since 2013.
Arreaza also said that those meetings imply a binational dialogue that cannot be denied by the US government and that Maduro is “up to date on every detail” that was discussed.
“It’s obviouis. Even Mr. Bolton, the national security adviser to the White House, the man of war has acknowledged it (the dialogue with the US),” he said.
Arreaza also slammed the US State Department for restricting the Venezuelan diplomat to the Organization of American States (OAS), Samuel Moncada, from moving freely in the 25 miles around its headquarters in Washington.
“They’re afraid of what Venezuela will say, they’re afraid of hearing the truth about Venezuela,” the foreign minister said.
In that regard, he said the Venezuelan government is “evaluating” what actions to take to keep “the voice of Venezuela in the OAS” from being silenced before April 27, when it is pulling out of the organization of its own volition.
“The day we leave, no one is going to be kicking us out,” he said.
Meanwhile, the first of three Boeing C-17 Globemaster cargo planes of the US Air Force brought humanitarian aid for Venezuela to the Colombian border city of Cucuta on Saturday from an air base in Florida.
The aircraft, which left Homestead Air Reserve Base south of Miami , landed at Cucuta’s Camilo Daza International Airport at 12:20 pm with nutritional supplements for close to 3,500 children suffering malnutrition, along with hygiene kits for at least 25,000 people.
According to US diplomatic sources, a total of three C-17 military aircraft should reach Cucuta this Saturday, the main border crossing between Colombia and Venezuela, where tons of humanitarian aid for the latter country are being stored.
The US Embassy in Colombia also said in a statement that additional military flights will be arriving in the next few days to deliver humanitarian aid for the most vulnerable sectors of the population.
The aid flown in will be received at Camilo Daza Airport by representatives of the US State Department, the US Agency for International Development (USAID), members of the Colombian government, and representatives of the speaker of the Venezuelan National Assembly, Juan Guaido, self-proclaimed interim president of his country since last January.
The shipment, with which the US and Colombia seek to ease the crisis in Venezuela “caused by the bad management of the illegitimate Nicolas Maduro regime,” comes on top of the first load flown into Cucuta last week to help a least 5,000 Venezuelans.
Additionally, medical emergency packages that contain medical supplies and pharmaceuticals that can save lives, for use in hospitals and community medical centers, will arrive early next week,” the US Embassy statement said.
Cucuta, together with Curacao and the Brazilian state of Roraima, are supply centers for the humanitarian aid that will be sent into Venezuela next Feb. 23, as Guaido announced last Tuesday.
Nonetheless, the Nicolas Maduro government has warned more than once that he will stop any humanitarian aid from entering the country.
This Friday, Guaido announced on Twitter the creation in Miami of a new humanitarian aid center.
The US Embassy said Saturday that USAID is readying additional supplies in its Miami and Houston warehouses to be distributed immediately in the South American region.
By the same token, it said that in the last two years, the US government has allocated more than $140 million in aid for the hemisphere and the people of Venezuela.
Venezuela has lived in a situation of political instability since last Jan. 10, when Maduro began another term in office after supposedly winning the presidential election last May, though many Venezuelans and members of the international community believe that election was rigged.