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Venezuela ready to import food, medicine worth $2.5 bln, vice president says

The illegal blockade that prevents the delivery of food and medicine and does not allow domestic production must be lifted, Executive Vice President Delcy Rodriguez said

MOSCOW, March 1. /TASS/. Caracas is ready to import food and medicine worth $2.5 bln, Venezuelan Executive Vice President Delcy Rodriguez said at a joint press conference following Moscow talks with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov on Friday.

"We have held talks with the European Union’s international contact group and representatives of Uruguay, presenting a list of items that we are ready to buy, worth about $2.5 bln," she said. "The maritime blockade makes it impossible to bring it all to Venezuela," Rodriguez added.

According to her, Venezuela may use its assets frozen in European banks to pay for food and medicine. "This is a real cooperation mechanism and not fake humanitarian aid," she noted.

"Venezuela only needs one thing: the illegal blockade that prevents the delivery of food and medicine to our country and does not allow us to produce them ourselves must be lifted," the Venezuelan vice president pointed out. "This crisis is being artificially created under the guidance of the US, which is actually stealing our country’s financial assets. What is happening is nothing but armed robbery," Rodriguez emphasized.

Crisis in Venezuela

On January 23, Juan Guaido, Venezuelan opposition leader and parliament speaker, whose appointment to that position had been cancelled by the country’s Supreme Court, declared himself interim president at a rally in the country’s capital of Caracas.

Several countries, including the United States, Lima Group members (excluding Mexico), Australia, Albania, Georgia and Israel, as well as the Organization of American States, recognized him. Maduro, in turn, blasted the move as a coup staged by Washington and said he was severing diplomatic ties with the US. On February 4, most of the European Union member states recognized Guaido as Venezuela’s interim president.

In contrast, Russia, Belarus, Bolivia, Iran, Cuba, Nicaragua, El Salvador, Syria and Turkey voiced support for Maduro, while China called for resolving all differences peacefully and warned against foreign interference. The United Nations secretary general, in turn, called for dialogue to resolve the crisis.

On February 23, Venezuelan opposition members attempted to bring foreign humanitarian aid into the country through the borders with Colombia and Brazil, though the government had sealed the borders in order to prevent such actions. The move triggered clashes between opposition activists and Venezuelan police and National Guard units deployed to the border. Several aid convoy trucks were burned down.

Caracas has many times accused Colombia of plotting an intervention in Venezuela under the guise of a humanitarian mission.