Pence will meet with Venezuelan opposition leader in Colombia after violent weekend

Published 5:16 AM EST, Mon February 25, 2019
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(CNN) —  

US Vice President Mike Pence will meet with Venezuela’s self-declared interim president and opposition leader, Juan Guaido in Bogota, Colombia Monday, following a weekend of violent clashes along Venezuela’s borders with Colombia and Brazil.

Latest developments

Deaths and injuries: Nearly 300 people are estimated to have been injured in clashes between Venezuelan troops loyal to President Nicolas Maduro and protesters in areas near the country’s border over the weekend. The opposition says five people were also killed. CNN has not verified those numbers.

Aid deliveries: Trucks carrying supplies were stopped at most spots Saturday. Witnesses said two trucks were set ablaze while attempting to cross into Venezuela from Colombia.

US response: US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo condemned the actions of Maduro’s government and said the US would “take action against those who oppose the peaceful restoration of democracy in Venezuela.” Pompeo wrote on Twitter: “What kind of a sick tyrant stops food from getting to hungry people? The images of burning trucks filled with aid are sickening.”

Tensions with Colombia: Maduro on Saturday told supporters he was breaking all diplomatic relations with Colombia and calling for its ambassadors and consuls to leave Venezuela. Colombia ordered its diplomats to leave immediately for their safety.

Defections: Colombia’s customs agency said Sunday that 104 members of Venezuela’s security forces had defected, entering Colombia.

US will offer Guaido ‘unwavering support’

While in Colombia, Pence will also address a meeting of the Lima Group – a diplomatic body created by leaders mostly from Latin American countries to help mitigate the Venezuelan crisis.

The White House said Pence would “voice the United States’ unwavering support for interim President Juan Guaido and highlight the Venezuelan people’s fight for democracy over dictatorship.”

Guaido, who arrived in Bogota Sunday, is battling President Nicolas Maduro for control of Venezuela. He has called for other nations to send aid to the country in response to worsening food and medicine shortages. But Maduro – who won re-election in a widely-criticized vote last year – denies that a humanitarian crisis exists in Venezuela and suggests that aid efforts are part of a US plot to orchestrate a coup.

The dispute led the Venezuelan military – on Maduro’s order – to block aid convoys at the country’s border on Saturday.

Trucks set ablaze during aid attempt Saturday

Trucks carrying supplies were stopped at most spots Saturday. Witnesses said two trucks were set ablaze while attempting to cross into Venezuela from Colombia.

CNN cannot independently confirm the incident or the circumstances of how the two trucks were set on fire.

Venezuelan Communications Minister Jorge Rodriguez accused Guaido supporters of burning the trucks.

While a CNN team saw incendiary devices from police on the Venezuelan side of the border ignite the trucks, the network’s journalists are unsure if the trucks were burned on purpose.