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Amid Venezuela unrest, Pence to meet Guaido today


US Vice President Mike Pence is on his way to Colombia to meet Venezuela's self-declared interim president Juan Guaido, amidst the violent clashes along the borders of the South American nation over aid supplies to its citizens.
During the visit, Pence is slated to address a meeting of the Lima Group -- a diplomatic body created by leaders mostly from Latin American countries to help mitigate the Venezuelan crisis, CNN reported.
In a statement, the White House said that the US Vice President would "voice the US' unwavering support for interim President Juan Guaido and highlight the Venezuelan people's fight for democracy over dictatorship."
The Lima Group - formed in 2017 to oppose Maduro's government - have rejected Maduro's victory in the last year's presidential elections and have been working alongside the US and the opposition to topple the Venezuelan leader.
Guaido, who arrived in Bogota, Colombia's capital on Sunday, is currently at loggerheads with incumbent President Nicolas Maduro for control of Venezuela.
Guaido has urged other countries to pump in relief supplies to the beleaguered nation in response to worsening food and medical shortages. However, a defiant Maduro, who is backed by the country's powerful military, claimed that the opposition protests are an attempt by the US to stage a coup and overthrow him.
The controversy led to the Venezuelan military, on Maduro's order to block relief convoys at the Colombia-Venezuela border over the weekend.
During the protests, nearly 300 people sustained injuries after the Venezuelan troops fired tear gas and rubber bullets at the protestors.
Protestors also claimed that the trucks were also burnt down by the security forces. Meanwhile, the US announced that it was preparing to bring in aid supplies into Venezuela through a different route. The political turmoil began on January 24 in Venezuela when Guaido revolted against Maduro and announced himself as the country's interim president.
The economic crisis in the nation, coupled with a food shortage, has strengthened an anti-Maduro sentiment across the South American nation, with the Opposition parties accusing Maduro of "usurping power."
Amidst the unrest in his country, Maduro has severed diplomatic ties with Columbia and shut down Venezuela's border with Brazil.

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First Published: Feb 25 2019 | 8:10 PM IST

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