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Venezuela leader Guaido gives military 3 days to switch sides

By Renzo Pipoli
Venezuela leader Guaido gives military 3 days to switch sides
Opposition leader Juan Guaido asked members of the Venezuelan military to stop supporting President Nicolas Maduro within three days. Photo by Miguel Gutierrez/.EPA-EFE

Feb. 20 (UPI) -- Venezuelan National Assembly leader Juan Guaido on Wednesday gave the country's armed forces a three-day ultimatum to stop supporting President Nicolas Maduro before humanitarian aid arrives.

Large amounts of aid -- including medicine, food and hygiene products -- are being accumulated on the Colombian and Brazilian sides of the border with Venezuela. Guaido has said it will enter Venezuela Saturday, despite Maduro's efforts to block it with military force.

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Guaido issued the warning as the country's interim president.

"You have three days to obey the order of the president and place yourselves on the side of the constitution," Guaido wrote in a tweet directed at military forces, who support Maduro. "The aid is to save lives."

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Guaido asked last month for international humanitarian assistance, saying it's the first step needed to care for large portions of the population who lack medicine and basic goods.

Maduro, who's denied the existence of a crisis in Venezuela, has said the aid effort is an act by the United States to destabilize his regime and support Guaido. Both leaders have been fighting for power since Maduro was sworn in last month.

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Guaido's Twitter account said he took part in a demonstration Wednesday by transportation companies against the Maduro regime. He thanked them for offering vehicles to move the aid, El Nacional reported..

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"We will peacefully go to the barracks, with courage, to demand the entry of the humanitarian aid," Guaido said. He's already visited military barracks and promised amnesty for military members who stop supporting Maduro.

Guaido said there will be multiple protests supporting the aid Saturday and groups demonstrating at the border, in streets and at military barracks. Guaido has organized three massive demonstrations so far this year. A concert is planned for Friday in Cucuta, Colombia, and will feature international artists supporting the relief effort.

Meanwhile, the Venezuelan legislature is working toward a new election process. Maduro has rejected calls to stage a new vote to end the crisis.

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