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Venezuelans Want Trump’s Humanitarian Aid, Not Trump’s Troops

The Daily Beast logo The Daily Beast 11/02/2019 By Alex Domash
a man wearing a blue hat: Marco Bello/Getty © Provided by The Daily Beast Marco Bello/Getty

CÚCUTA, Colombia—While shipments of U.S. humanitarian aid containing food, medical supplies, and nutritional supplements wait at the Colombia-Venezuela border, José Carrea staggers across the international bridge connecting the two countries, a large bag stuffed with food slung over his shoulder.

Carrea, 35, is on his way back to Venezuela. A taxi driver from San Cristóbal, about 20 miles from the border, Carrea saves up enough money to cross into Colombia every two to three weeks to buy essential provisions– the very provisions that Nicolás Maduro, the military-backed president of Venezuela, now blocks at the border.

TOPSHOT - People raise their hands during a mass opposition rally against President Nicolas Maduro in which Venezuela's National Assembly head Juan Guaido (out of frame) declared himself the country's 'acting president', on the anniversary of a 1958 uprising that overthrew a military dictatorship, in Caracas on January 23, 2019. - 'I swear to formally assume the national executive powers as acting president of Venezuela to end the usurpation, (install) a transitional government and hold free elections,' said Guaido as thousands of supporters cheered. Moments earlier, the loyalist-dominated Supreme Court ordered a criminal investigation of the opposition-controlled legislature. (Photo by Federico PARRA / AFP)        (Photo credit should read FEDERICO PARRA/AFP/Getty Images) © Catalyst Images TOPSHOT - People raise their hands during a mass opposition rally against President Nicolas Maduro in which Venezuela's National Assembly head Juan Guaido (out of frame) declared himself the country's 'acting president', on the anniversary of a 1958 uprising that overthrew a military dictatorship, in Caracas on January 23, 2019. - 'I swear to formally assume the national executive powers as acting president of Venezuela to end the usurpation, (install) a transitional government and hold free elections,' said Guaido as thousands of supporters cheered. Moments earlier, the loyalist-dominated Supreme Court ordered a criminal investigation of the opposition-controlled legislature. (Photo by Federico PARRA / AFP) (Photo credit should read FEDERICO PARRA/AFP/Getty Images) For the last year, Carrea has crossed seamlessly into Cúcuta to buy the basic supplies that he can’t find back home. But for those living further from the border, the shipments of aid now blocked by Maduro provided a glimmer of hope to also have access to these essential supplies unavailable in their country.    

“Maduro says there is no humanitarian crisis in Venezuela,” said Carrea, holding a packed polka-dotted bag in his arms. He said the bag was full of food products including salt, butter, cooking oil, rice, and sardines, as well as hygiene items such as soap.

TOPSHOT - Venezuelans opposed to President Nicolas Maduro hold a demonstration in Medellin, Colombia in support of opposition leader Juan Guaido's self-proclamation as acting president of Venezuela, on January 23, 2019. (Photo by JOAQUIN SARMIENTO / AFP)        (Photo credit should read JOAQUIN SARMIENTO/AFP/Getty Images) © Catalyst Images TOPSHOT - Venezuelans opposed to President Nicolas Maduro hold a demonstration in Medellin, Colombia in support of opposition leader Juan Guaido's self-proclamation as acting president of Venezuela, on January 23, 2019. (Photo by JOAQUIN SARMIENTO / AFP) (Photo credit should read JOAQUIN SARMIENTO/AFP/Getty Images) “But if there is no crisis, why do I have to come to Colombia to buy all of these things,” he asked rhetorically from a shaded area along the bridge, where he stood resting beside a shouting Venezuelan hawker selling 30 acetaminophen tablets for 2,000 Colombian pesos (65 U.S. cents). “Maduro pretends that none of us who cross the border exist.”

Every day, an estimated 50,000 Venezuelans flow across the bustling Simón Bolívar International Bridge into Cúcuta, Colombia, which has become the epicenter of the Venezuelan exodus. While most, like Carrea, come to the Colombia border city for the day to stock up on basic food and medicines, approximately 5,000 flee the crisis each day with no intention of heading back home.

CARACAS, VENEZUELA - JANUARY 24: President of Venezuela Nicolás Maduro (L) looks on before talking to judges and members of the Supreme Justice Tribunal on its annual opening day of sessions on January 24 in Caracas, Venezuela. Yesterday opposition leader and head of the National Assembly Juan Guaidó declared self interim president. Several countries including US, France and Brazil accepted Guaidó as the legitimate temporary ruler of the country. In response, Nicolás Maduro urged American diplomats to leave Venezuela in 72 hours breaking diplomatic relationships.  (Photo by Getty Images/Getty Images) © Catalyst Images CARACAS, VENEZUELA - JANUARY 24: President of Venezuela Nicolás Maduro (L) looks on before talking to judges and members of the Supreme Justice Tribunal on its annual opening day of sessions on January 24 in Caracas, Venezuela. Yesterday opposition leader and head of the National Assembly Juan Guaidó declared self interim president. Several countries including US, France and Brazil accepted Guaidó as the legitimate temporary ruler of the country. In response, Nicolás Maduro urged American diplomats to leave Venezuela in 72 hours breaking diplomatic relationships. (Photo by Getty Images/Getty Images) The crisis is palpable here. People live it, breathe it, sweat it day in and day out. But there is also fear that any overt U.S. intervention in Venezuela will make the situation even worse.

The endless stream of migrants pouring into Cúcuta looking for basic necessities has given rise to a dynamic informal market serviced by Venezuelans for Venezuelans only a few feet from the border. Beneath the scorching sun, thousands set up makeshift tables selling everything from potatoes to toothpaste to diapers. As hawkers scream out prices into the suffocating air, crowds of buyers edge their way through the streets, lifting oversized bags or pushing handcarts, in order to stockpile the assorted staple goods that they cannot buy back in Venezuela.

TOPSHOT - Venezuela's National Assembly head Juan Guaido, speaks to the crowd during a mass opposition rally against leader Nicolas Maduro in which he declared himself the country's 'acting president', on the anniversary of a 1958 uprising that overthrew military dictatorship, in Caracas on January 23, 2019. - 'I swear to formally assume the national executive powers as acting president of Venezuela to end the usurpation, (install) a transitional government and hold free elections,' said Guaido as thousands of supporters cheered. Moments earlier, the loyalist-dominated Supreme Court ordered a criminal investigation of the opposition-controlled legislature. (Photo by Federico PARRA / AFP)        (Photo credit should read FEDERICO PARRA/AFP/Getty Images) © Catalyst Images TOPSHOT - Venezuela's National Assembly head Juan Guaido, speaks to the crowd during a mass opposition rally against leader Nicolas Maduro in which he declared himself the country's 'acting president', on the anniversary of a 1958 uprising that overthrew military dictatorship, in Caracas on January 23, 2019. - 'I swear to formally assume the national executive powers as acting president of Venezuela to end the usurpation, (install) a transitional government and hold free elections,' said Guaido as thousands of supporters cheered. Moments earlier, the loyalist-dominated Supreme Court ordered a criminal investigation of the opposition-controlled legislature. (Photo by Federico PARRA / AFP) (Photo credit should read FEDERICO PARRA/AFP/Getty Images) Yany Gallardo, 26, is one of the thousands of Venezuelans who was forced to restart her life as a vendor in Cúcuta. Gallardo, who is due to give birth next month to a baby boy already named Marianyuli, arrived in Cúcuta in November 2017 with her 8-year-old son, Javier. Here, she sells coffee, water, and lollipops at the foot of the international bridge, and earns between three and four U.S. dollars a day.

“Life is very difficult here, and you have to pay for everything,” said Gallardo, who sleeps outside with her son near the border crossing, and often needs to pay to access simple services such as bathrooms and showers. She originally came to Colombia to seek treatment for Javier’s chronic kidney disease. “But at least you can work and find the medicine you need. In Venezuela, there is nothing.”

SANTIAGO, CHILE – JANUARY 23: A protester shows a sign during a demonstration of Venezuelans living in Chile to support opposition leader Juan Guaido as Venezuela's interim president against Nicolas Maduro at Plaza Baquedano on January 23, 2019 in Santiago, Chile. (Photo by Sebastián Vivallo Oñate/Agencia Makro/Getty Images) © Catalyst Images SANTIAGO, CHILE – JANUARY 23: A protester shows a sign during a demonstration of Venezuelans living in Chile to support opposition leader Juan Guaido as Venezuela's interim president against Nicolas Maduro at Plaza Baquedano on January 23, 2019 in Santiago, Chile. (Photo by Sebastián Vivallo Oñate/Agencia Makro/Getty Images) Amid the escalating economic crisis in Venezuela, where inflation rates have skyrocketed past 1,000,000 percent (yes, one million percent), and shortages of basic food and medical supplies are the norm, the U.S. and Venezuelan opposition leaders have organized for emergency humanitarian aid shipments to be delivered to the Venezuelan people.

But this move provoked a furious reaction from the government of President Maduro. In Venezuela, where the military manages the country’s diminished food supply, food aid is not only a humanitarian issue. It’s also deeply political.

CARACAS, VENEZUELA - JANUARY 23: President of Venezuela Nicolás Maduro (C) waves a national flag as he is escorted by (FROM L TO R)  Diosdado Cabello, President of National Constitutional Assembly;  Cilia Flores, First Lady; Executive Vice President Delcy Rodriguez and Major Erika Farias at the Balcón del Pueblo of the Miraflores Government Palace on January 23, 2019 in Caracas, Venezuela. Earlier today, Venezuelan opposition leader and head of the National Assembly Juan Guaido declared self interim president as was officially accepted by presidents of many countries such as US, Brazil, Chile, Canada and Argentina. Head of Supreme Justice tribunal Juan Jose Mendoza urged general attorney to act against a constitution violation. Protests continue in Caracas. (Photo by Edilzon Gamez/Getty Images) © Catalyst Images CARACAS, VENEZUELA - JANUARY 23: President of Venezuela Nicolás Maduro (C) waves a national flag as he is escorted by (FROM L TO R) Diosdado Cabello, President of National Constitutional Assembly; Cilia Flores, First Lady; Executive Vice President Delcy Rodriguez and Major Erika Farias at the Balcón del Pueblo of the Miraflores Government Palace on January 23, 2019 in Caracas, Venezuela. Earlier today, Venezuelan opposition leader and head of the National Assembly Juan Guaido declared self interim president as was officially accepted by presidents of many countries such as US, Brazil, Chile, Canada and Argentina. Head of Supreme Justice tribunal Juan Jose Mendoza urged general attorney to act against a constitution violation. Protests continue in Caracas. (Photo by Edilzon Gamez/Getty Images) Nearly all of Venezuela’s food is imported by the government, which creates lucrative opportunities for Maduro’s cronies to siphon off money from food contracts and for Maduro to use food distribution as a form of political patronage. In 2016, President Maduro introduced so-called CLAP boxes– which contain rations of staple foods such as rice, flour, and canned tuna– and has used the distribution of these boxes to reward his supporters and punish dissenters.

With this as motivation, Maduro’s National Guard set up a blockade at the Tienditas border crossing in Cúcuta on Wednesday, where the aid was due to arrive. Maduro publicly claims that there is no humanitarian crisis in Venezuela, and told the military earlier in the week “we are not beggars.”

Venezuelan opposition supporters take to the streets to protest against the government of President Nicolas Maduro, on the anniversary of 1958 uprising that overthrew military dictatorship in Caracas on January 23, 2019. - At least four people died in overnight clashes in Venezuela as opposition supporters and regime loyalists prepared for rival rallies Wednesday, in the wake of a failed military mutiny against President Nicolas Maduro. (Photo by Yuri CORTEZ / AFP)        (Photo credit should read YURI CORTEZ/AFP/Getty Images) © Catalyst Images Venezuelan opposition supporters take to the streets to protest against the government of President Nicolas Maduro, on the anniversary of 1958 uprising that overthrew military dictatorship in Caracas on January 23, 2019. - At least four people died in overnight clashes in Venezuela as opposition supporters and regime loyalists prepared for rival rallies Wednesday, in the wake of a failed military mutiny against President Nicolas Maduro. (Photo by Yuri CORTEZ / AFP) (Photo credit should read YURI CORTEZ/AFP/Getty Images) The country has been embroiled in a political crisis ever since the opposition leader and president of the National Assembly, Juan Guaidó, invoked a clause of the constitution a few weeks ago to proclaim himself the legitimate interim president of Venezuela. Donald Trump, along with many other world leaders, quickly recognized Guaidó as Venezuela’s president and at his request coordinated $20 million worth of humanitarian aid to be delivered to the battered country.

For the U.S. and Venezuelan opposition, the humanitarian shipments are also about more than just emergency aid. The first shipment of aid contains only enough food kits to feed 5,000 families of five for one week–hardly sufficient to diminish seriously the humanitarian need in Venezuela.

Opposition demonstrators clash with security forces in a protest against the government of President Nicolas Maduro on the anniversary of the 1958 uprising that overthrew the military dictatorship, in Caracas on January 23, 2019. - Venezuela's National Assembly head Juan Guaido declared himself the country's 'acting president' on Wednesday during a mass opposition rally against leader Nicolas Maduro. (Photo by Federico Parra / AFP)        (Photo credit should read FEDERICO PARRA/AFP/Getty Images) © Catalyst Images Opposition demonstrators clash with security forces in a protest against the government of President Nicolas Maduro on the anniversary of the 1958 uprising that overthrew the military dictatorship, in Caracas on January 23, 2019. - Venezuela's National Assembly head Juan Guaido declared himself the country's 'acting president' on Wednesday during a mass opposition rally against leader Nicolas Maduro. (Photo by Federico Parra / AFP) (Photo credit should read FEDERICO PARRA/AFP/Getty Images) Instead, many allege that Guaidó hopes to use the international aid to establish a humanitarian corridor, allowing international aid groups to control part of the border. Many also view the aid as a political ploy to provoke top-level military officials, who have remained loyal to Maduro, to give up their allegiance to Maduro and support the opposition.

Earlier in the week, speaking to a group of reporters and government officials in Caracas, Maduro railed against the “imperialist plot” to destabilize his government, and repeated his claim that the humanitarian crisis is a fabrication cooked up by Washington. During his speech, the electricity cut out twice.  

U.S. National Security Adviser John Bolton holds a pad of note paper with a note reading "5,000 troops to Colombia" as he waits to address reporters as the Trump administration announces economic sanctions against Venezuela and the Venezuelan state owned oil company Petroleos de Venezuela (PdVSA) during a press briefing at the White House in Washington, U.S., January 28, 2019. REUTERS/Jim Young © Catalyst Images U.S. National Security Adviser John Bolton holds a pad of note paper with a note reading "5,000 troops to Colombia" as he waits to address reporters as the Trump administration announces economic sanctions against Venezuela and the Venezuelan state owned oil company Petroleos de Venezuela (PdVSA) during a press briefing at the White House in Washington, U.S., January 28, 2019. REUTERS/Jim Young At the Tienditas border crossing on Thursday, after much anticipation, the convoy of U.S. humanitarian trucks carrying food, medicine, hygiene kits, and nutritional products finally arrived here on the border. A group of Venezuelan demonstrators welcomed the two semi-trailer trucks and six smaller trucks by protesting angrily against Maduro’s blockade. One held a sign saying that the best humanitarian aid Venezuela could receive would be the “extermination of the cancer called Nicolas Maduro.”

Back at the Simón Bolívar Bridge, the primary pedestrian border crossing in Cúcuta, rumors circulated about the arrival of the aid.  

Venezuelan opposition supporters take to the streets to protest against the government of President Nicolas Maduro, on the anniversary of 1958 uprising that overthrew military dictatorship in Caracas on January 23, 2019. - At least four people died in overnight clashes in Venezuela as opposition supporters and regime loyalists prepared for rival rallies Wednesday, in the wake of a failed military mutiny against President Nicolas Maduro. (Photo by YURI CORTEZ / AFP)        (Photo credit should read YURI CORTEZ/AFP/Getty Images) © Catalyst Images Venezuelan opposition supporters take to the streets to protest against the government of President Nicolas Maduro, on the anniversary of 1958 uprising that overthrew military dictatorship in Caracas on January 23, 2019. - At least four people died in overnight clashes in Venezuela as opposition supporters and regime loyalists prepared for rival rallies Wednesday, in the wake of a failed military mutiny against President Nicolas Maduro. (Photo by YURI CORTEZ / AFP) (Photo credit should read YURI CORTEZ/AFP/Getty Images) Carlí Torres, 21, who came to Cúcuta to find medicines and vitamins that weren’t available back in Venezuela, was infuriated that Maduro was stopping the aid. Her parents were still in Caracas, where they struggled to survive without work. The factory where Torres’s dad used to work had closed over a year ago due to the crumbling economy, and the country’s near-worthless currency made it difficult for them to find food. But they couldn’t afford to travel to Cúcuta.  

“Venezuelans need that aid so badly,” Torres said, as she sold a small packet of water to an exhausted customer hauling two suitcases full of goods. “My family is dying of hunger back home. He needs to let in the aid.”

CARACAS, VENEZUELA - JANUARY 23: Demonstrators during a protest against the government of Nicolas Maduro at Plaza Altamira after opposition leader and head of the National Assembly Juan Guaido  declared self interim president on January 23, 2019 in Caracas, Venezuela. Several countries such us US. Canada, Brazil, Chile, Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, Peru, Ecuador and Guatemala officially accepted Guaido. Head of Supreme Justice tribunal Juan Jose Mendoza urged general attorney to act against a constitution violation. (Photo by Edilzon Gamez/Getty Images) © Catalyst Images CARACAS, VENEZUELA - JANUARY 23: Demonstrators during a protest against the government of Nicolas Maduro at Plaza Altamira after opposition leader and head of the National Assembly Juan Guaido declared self interim president on January 23, 2019 in Caracas, Venezuela. Several countries such us US. Canada, Brazil, Chile, Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, Peru, Ecuador and Guatemala officially accepted Guaido. Head of Supreme Justice tribunal Juan Jose Mendoza urged general attorney to act against a constitution violation. (Photo by Edilzon Gamez/Getty Images) César Jil, a farmer from Maracaibo and member of the indigenous Wayuu ethnic group, overheard the conversation from his nearby stand and asked if he could say something to the camera.  

“Maduro you are worse than the devil,” he shouted passionately, as nearby hawkers stopped to watch his speech. “Let in that aid for the kids who don’t have medicine, for the people who don’t have anything. You say that Venezuela does not have a crisis, but there is nothing there. You are a liar, and your time is finished.” A chorus of applause broke out from the smiling onlookers.

Venezuela's National Assembly head and self-proclaimed 'acting president' Juan Guaido, arrives at the National Assembly in Caracas to attend a session on January 29, 2019. - Guaido proclaimed himself acting president on January 23, during a mass street rally that brought out tens of thousands of people to protest against Maduro, whom they blame for an economic meltdown that has left millions of Venezuelans in poverty and forced millions out of the country. (Photo by Yuri CORTEZ / AFP)        (Photo credit should read YURI CORTEZ/AFP/Getty Images) © Catalyst Images Venezuela's National Assembly head and self-proclaimed 'acting president' Juan Guaido, arrives at the National Assembly in Caracas to attend a session on January 29, 2019. - Guaido proclaimed himself acting president on January 23, during a mass street rally that brought out tens of thousands of people to protest against Maduro, whom they blame for an economic meltdown that has left millions of Venezuelans in poverty and forced millions out of the country. (Photo by Yuri CORTEZ / AFP) (Photo credit should read YURI CORTEZ/AFP/Getty Images) Aside from the Venezuelan migrants, leaders of local NGOs and nonprofits have also expressed their dismay with Maduro’s reluctance to let in the humanitarian aid. 

Jean Carlos Andrade is the coordinator of a church-run kitchen in Cúcuta that serves 8,000 meals per day to migrants, free of charge. Jean told The Daily Beast that every child he sees from Venezuela that comes to the kitchen is malnourished. “You think initially that they are 4 years old, but really they are 9 or 10.” He added that he thinks children in Venezuela are in desperate need of nutritional supplements (the humanitarian aid blocked in Cúcuta contains nutritional supplements to treat 6,700 young children) in order to curb the pervasive malnutrition.

LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM - JANUARY 28: Campaigners from 'Hands Off Venezuela' stage a protest outside Downing Street in central London demanding that the UK government doesn't recognise presidency of Juan Guaido and that the Bank of England gives president Nicolas Maduro access to $1.2 billion Venezuelan gold reserves it holds. The protesters oppose the recognition of Juan Guaido, who proclaimed himself a president on the 23rd of January, by the US, Canada, Israel and Organisation of American States and demand that Venezuelan people should ultimately choose their president. January 28, 2019 in London, England. (Photo credit should read Wiktor Szymanowicz / Barcroft Media via Getty Images) © Catalyst Images LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM - JANUARY 28: Campaigners from 'Hands Off Venezuela' stage a protest outside Downing Street in central London demanding that the UK government doesn't recognise presidency of Juan Guaido and that the Bank of England gives president Nicolas Maduro access to $1.2 billion Venezuelan gold reserves it holds. The protesters oppose the recognition of Juan Guaido, who proclaimed himself a president on the 23rd of January, by the US, Canada, Israel and Organisation of American States and demand that Venezuelan people should ultimately choose their president. January 28, 2019 in London, England. (Photo credit should read Wiktor Szymanowicz / Barcroft Media via Getty Images) And the numbers corroborate his claim. According to a study conducted by three independent universities in Venezuela in 2017, at least 1.3 million people in Venezuela suffer from malnutrition. The study also found that nearly 60 percent of the population had lost weight in 2017 by an average of 11 kilograms. Today, someone on a minimum salary in Venezuela can only afford 600 calories per day. But despite the undeniable need for humanitarian assistance in Venezuela, the aid is currently stuck on the Colombia side of the border until officials decide how to circumnavigate the two blue shipping containers and a large oil tanker barricading the pathway into Venezuela. 

CARACAS, VENEZUELA - JANUARY 23:  Demonstrators protest against the government of Nicolás Maduro before Venezuelan opposition leader and head of the National Assembly Juan Guaido declares self interim president at Chacaito district on January 23, 2019 in Caracas, Venezuela. Many countries including the US, Canada, Argentina and Chile have officially recognized Guaido as the legitimate president of Venezuela. Head of Supreme Justice tribunal Juan Jose Mendoza urged general attorney to act against a constitution violation. (Photo by Edilzon Gamez/Getty Images) © Catalyst Images CARACAS, VENEZUELA - JANUARY 23: Demonstrators protest against the government of Nicolás Maduro before Venezuelan opposition leader and head of the National Assembly Juan Guaido declares self interim president at Chacaito district on January 23, 2019 in Caracas, Venezuela. Many countries including the US, Canada, Argentina and Chile have officially recognized Guaido as the legitimate president of Venezuela. Head of Supreme Justice tribunal Juan Jose Mendoza urged general attorney to act against a constitution violation. (Photo by Edilzon Gamez/Getty Images) At a press conference on Friday, U.S. Ambassador to Colombia Kevin Whitaker reinforced Trump’s recent claim that “nothing is off the table,” hinting at the possibility of a U.S. military intervention. 

At the Simón Bolívar Bridge, most Venezuelans expressed concern over the idea of direct U.S. military engagement in their country’s affairs.

LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM - JANUARY 28: Campaigners from 'Hands Off Venezuela' stage a protest outside Downing Street in central London demanding that the UK government doesn't recognise presidency of Juan Guaido and that the Bank of England gives president Nicolas Maduro access to $1.2 billion Venezuelan gold reserves it holds. The protesters oppose the recognition of Juan Guaido, who proclaimed himself a president on the 23rd of January, by the US, Canada, Israel and Organisation of American States and demand that Venezuelan people should ultimately choose their president. January 28, 2019 in London, England. (Photo credit should read Wiktor Szymanowicz / Barcroft Media via Getty Images) © Catalyst Images LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM - JANUARY 28: Campaigners from 'Hands Off Venezuela' stage a protest outside Downing Street in central London demanding that the UK government doesn't recognise presidency of Juan Guaido and that the Bank of England gives president Nicolas Maduro access to $1.2 billion Venezuelan gold reserves it holds. The protesters oppose the recognition of Juan Guaido, who proclaimed himself a president on the 23rd of January, by the US, Canada, Israel and Organisation of American States and demand that Venezuelan people should ultimately choose their president. January 28, 2019 in London, England. (Photo credit should read Wiktor Szymanowicz / Barcroft Media via Getty Images) Lisbeth Rodriguez, 51, who is from Carabobo and arrived in Cúcuta five days before we met with her paraplegic son Daniel, doesn’t think the U.S. should use military force in Venezuela. Her concern? That violence will increase and a state of emergency will cause the Simón Bolívar border crossing, which so many people rely on to survive, to close. 

“It will just make our lives more difficult,” Rodriguez said, in response to the possibility of the U.S. military intervention.

CARACAS, VENEZUELA - 2019/01/23: Protesters set up barricades to block the road during a demonstration against Nicolas Maduro policies.
Rally against the government of Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro and also to commemorate the 61st anniversary of the end of Marcos Pérez Jiménez's dictatorship in Caracas. (Photo by Roman Camacho/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images) © Catalyst Images CARACAS, VENEZUELA - 2019/01/23: Protesters set up barricades to block the road during a demonstration against Nicolas Maduro policies. Rally against the government of Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro and also to commemorate the 61st anniversary of the end of Marcos Pérez Jiménez's dictatorship in Caracas. (Photo by Roman Camacho/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images) Twenty-one year-old Angie Pérez, who traveled for four days by herself from Guarenas, Venezuela to come to Cúcuta, is also worried about Trump openly discussing the possibility of a military invasion.  

“Of course we want the country to go back to what it was before Maduro,” said Pérez, while cradling a friend’s baby in her lap. “But it’s not going to be easy.”

A man holds a placard reading 'The People Shouldn't Fear the Governments, But the Government Should Fear the People' as Venezuela's National Assembly head Juan Guaido (out of frame) speaks to the crowd during a mass opposition rally against leader Nicolas Maduro in which he declared himself the country's 'acting president', on the anniversary of a 1958 uprising that overthrew a military dictatorship, in Caracas on January 23, 2019. - 'I swear to formally assume the national executive powers as acting president of Venezuela to end the usurpation, (install) a transitional government and hold free elections,' said Guaido as thousands of supporters cheered. Moments earlier, the loyalist-dominated Supreme Court ordered a criminal investigation of the opposition-controlled legislature. (Photo by Federico PARRA / AFP)        (Photo credit should read FEDERICO PARRA/AFP/Getty Images) © Catalyst Images A man holds a placard reading 'The People Shouldn't Fear the Governments, But the Government Should Fear the People' as Venezuela's National Assembly head Juan Guaido (out of frame) speaks to the crowd during a mass opposition rally against leader Nicolas Maduro in which he declared himself the country's 'acting president', on the anniversary of a 1958 uprising that overthrew a military dictatorship, in Caracas on January 23, 2019. - 'I swear to formally assume the national executive powers as acting president of Venezuela to end the usurpation, (install) a transitional government and hold free elections,' said Guaido as thousands of supporters cheered. Moments earlier, the loyalist-dominated Supreme Court ordered a criminal investigation of the opposition-controlled legislature. (Photo by Federico PARRA / AFP) (Photo credit should read FEDERICO PARRA/AFP/Getty Images) Perez has been in Cúcuta for four months, and, like many others, spends her nights sleeping on the streets adjacent to the Simón Bolívar Bridge. She works from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. selling juice and candies to migrants crossing the bridge. She speaks passionately and nostalgically about her country, but doesn’t have any delusions that the crisis will end anytime soon.

“Maduro has done so much bad for the country. Corruption and thieves are everywhere,” she continues. “If the U.S. comes and gets rid of Maduro, what happens next? There is still a long road ahead until Venezuela becomes Venezuela again.” 

CARACAS, VENEZUELA - JANUARY 24: A view of the U.S. Embassy in Caracas, Venezuela on January 24, 2019. President Nicolas Maduro of Venezuela announced his country cut all relations with the U.S. after Washington recognized opposition-controlled National Assembly's President Juan Guaido as interim president.

 (Photo by Marcelo Perez Del Carpio/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)

CARACAS, VENEZUELA - JANUARY 24: A view of the U.S. Embassy in Caracas, Venezuela on January 24, 2019. President Nicolas Maduro of Venezuela announced his country cut all relations with the U.S. after Washington recognized opposition-controlled National Assembly's President Juan Guaido as interim president. (Photo by Marcelo Perez Del Carpio/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
© Catalyst Images


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