Maduro Closes Border With Brazil To "Protect The People"

Venezuela's embattled President Nicolas Maduro has ordered the border with Brazil to be closed in response to opposition leaders vowing to facilitate entry of foreign humanitarian aid, especially US aid shipments, from neighboring nations. 

Maduro declared closure of the border during a state television address, in which he also said he's considering shutting down Venezuela's border with Colombia as well. The opposition, led by US-backed Juan Guaido, has said it plans to mount caravans to ensure aid is brought in from both Colombia and Brazil, in order to undermine and otherthrow the Maduro government. 

Venezuelan Bolivarian Guardsmen stand guard at the Tienditas International Bridge that links Colombia and Venezuela, near Urena, Venezuela. Image source: AP/Washington Post

The drastic action is being taken tonight, Maduro said, in order to "protect the people" while further repeating his charge that American attempts to send aid into the country is a US-orchestrated "political show" in order to foment coup against his elected government. 

National Assembly head Guaido, meanwhile, has personally vowed to lead a convoy to receive aid shipments from across the Colombian border. "On February 23, humanitarian aid will enter Venezuela one way or another," the self-declared president said earlier this month. 

The provocative move to undermine Maduro's power has been acknowledged as just that by the opposition, who've recently openly stated that the "humanitarian channel" is a direct political jab at Caracas. Though the tons of much needed aid, including food and medicine supplies, is reportedly piling up along border points especially in Colombia, it's anything but merely "benevolent" - the opposition acknowledges. 

"The impact of the humanitarian aid is highly political," Juan Miguel Matheus, an MP for the opposition told CNN this week. "Our first and primary goal is to provide relief for the Venezuelan population, but after that, with this move we want to checkmate Maduro."

"If the aid gets in, Maduro is shown to have lost control of the situation; if it doesn't get in, we show that Maduro doesn't care for the suffering of the people," he added.

Meanwhile Maduro has stationed troops along the Colombian border at sensitive areas and control points, while also vowing to defend against any unlawful incursions. This as American military planes have over the past days been coming and going, ostensibly with further humanitarian deliveries. 

Should Maduro close both borders with Colombia and Brazil, however, it will isolate Venezuela further both economically and politically, which will likely increase both internal and external international pressures on the regime.