Canada renews call to allow aid into Venezuela, stands ‘in solidarity’ with people

Click to play video: 'Juan Guiado defies Venezuela travel ban, arrives in Columbia' Juan Guiado defies Venezuela travel ban, arrives in Columbia
WATCH: Juan Guaido, recognized by most western nations as Venezuela's legitimate head of state, arrived at the Colombian border city of Cucuta on Friday, despite court orders not to leave the country – Feb 23, 2019

Canada renewed its calls to allow humanitarian aid into Venezuela on Saturday night in a joint statement by Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland and Minister of International Development Marie-Claude Bibeau.

“Canada is deeply concerned by the acts of violence allegedly perpetrated by the Maduro regime, designed to block the entry of relief items from neighbouring countries,” read the statement.

WATCH: Venezuelans hold protest in Halifax

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Venezuelans hold protest in Halifax – Feb 23, 2019

“Canada calls for these unacceptable attacks to be investigated and for the perpetrators to be brought to justice. These attacks on civilians are simply unacceptable and a violation of basic humanitarian principles and human decency.”

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Opposition leader Juan Guaido declared himself interim president on Jan. 23, 2019, after Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro won what was largely dismissed as a rigged election last May.

Under Maduro’s rule, the country has descended into poverty, millions of people have fled and inflation will likely reach an unthinkable one million per cent this year.

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Musical showdown happens in Venezuela amid humanitarian crisis – Feb 22, 2019

Since then, several western countries, including the United States and Canada, have backed Guaido’s claim to the presidency, and Venezuelans have taken to the streets calling for Maduro to step down.

Humanitarian aid from the United States arrived in Venezuela via the border it shares with Colombia on Feb. 8, however Maduro blocked the aid from entering the country. A few weeks later, Maduro closed the border that Venezuela shares with Brazil to block additional aid.

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Security forces killed two civilians this week after opening fire on angry protesters.

READ MORE: ‘Going back would be a death sentence’: Venezuela unrest leaves severely ill children in limbo

In 2017, Canada joined a group established to apply pressure on the Maduro government in the wake of the economic and humanitarian crisis. Since the uprisings began, Canada has remained steadfast in its support of Guaido.

“Canada stands in solidarity with the people of Venezuela and reaffirms their right to peace and democracy and the full respect of their human rights,” the statement continued.

In January, Freeland called Venezuela’s military-backed regime a dictatorship and imposed sanctions on 70 individuals associated with Maduro.

READ MORE: Here’s what is happening in Venezuela — and how Canada is involved

U.S. President Donald Trump has also been vocal in his support of Guaido and recently held a rally specifically dedicated to voicing support for Venezuelans. U.S. Vice-President Mike Pence plans to meet with Guaido in Bogota on Monday on the sidelines of a meeting of the Lima Group of regional leaders, a Pence aide said on Saturday.

—With files from the Mike Le Couteur, the Associated Press and Kerri Breen


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