This afternoon, Caracas ordered the severing of all sea and air links to the Dutch Antilles, effectively immediately.

The move was confirmed to Reuters by vice admiral Vladimir Quintero, “who did not explain the reason” for the measure. It is also not clear how long the measure is intended to last.

The closure of the border is likely related to the fact that Curacao is one of the staging points for humanitarian aid destined for Venezuela.  The government of Curacao considers that the measure is aimed at preventing the humanitarian aid warehoused on the island from making it to Venezuelans:

The issue of the international humanitarian aid effort has captured headlines in Venezuela for the past several weeks. The aid–the majority of which appears to be in Cucuta, Colombia–is scheduled to be delivered into Venezuela on February 23.

Minister of Defense Decries Trump Speech, Stresses Loyalty to Maduro

Minister of Defense Vladimir Padrino gave a speech this afternoon in which he decried comments made by United States president Donald Trump last night in Miami.

Speaking at a podium surrounded by army officers, Padrino Lopez said that the National Bolivarian Armed Forces “overwhelmingly reject” Trump’s comments, which he called “irresponsible”.

Among Trump’s comments was last night a call to Venezuelan soldiers to choose between “losing everything” or “amnesty” in exchange for turning against the Maduro regime.

Padrino Lopez explained his contempt for Trump’s words in the following way:

We could not stop the feeling of shock at [Trump’s] arrogant, bullying tone, the arrogance that emanated from the words given by United States President Donald Trump.

The minister also said that Trump “never fails to amaze” him.

Padrino Lopez also tried to calm fears that the army will lash out in violence against Venezuelans over the expected delivery of humanitarian aid from Colombia, which is scheduled to take place on February 23. On the suggestion that it would, Padrino Lopez said:

It’s a bunch of lies, manipulations. [It’s] a psychological campaign that they’ve put up in Venezuela to gain political power.

The minister suggested that the international humanitarian relief effort is part of a U.S. plot to gain power for itself in Venezuela, and stressed that Washington would do so “over our dead bodies”.

On the army’s opinion of Maduro, Padrino Lopez said:

… the generals and admirals, high-ranking officers, low-ranking officers, soldiers and enlisted men, every soldier of the Homeland, [we all] reiterate our unrestricted obedience, submission and loyalty [to Maduro].

Questions/Comments? E-mail me: invenezuelablog@gmail.com

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