Venezuela severs diplomatic ties with Colombia - Maduro

The stage for the upcoming concert

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres met Venezuelan Foreign Minister Jorge Arreaza in NY on Friday and "urged the Venezuelan authorities not to use lethal force against demonstrators", spokesperson Stephane Dujarric said.

"The agencies of the United Nations and the International Committee of the Red Cross are not taking part in the US-Colombian show on the [Venezuelan] border due to a certain reason: it is absolutely clear that this operation has political goals and could not be described as humanitarian", Arreaza wrote on his Twitter page.

Opposition volunteers in neighbouring Brazil and Colombia plan to arrive at the border to help carry humanitarian aid to a sick and hungry population suffering from an economic meltdown under President Nicolas Maduro.

Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaido, who many nations have recognized as the country's rightful interim ruler gestures while standing on a truck carrying humanitarian aid for Venezuela in the area of a warehouse where humanitarian aid for Venezuela has been collected in Cucuta, Colombia, February 23, 2019.

"We were all going to work, we want to work, the people attempted to force through", said Viviana Meza, 29, who works in a Cucuta restaurant.

"What we did today, we did for our families, for the Venezuelan people", said one of the defectors in a video televised by a Colombian news program, which did not identify them.

In the southern town of Santa Elena de Uairen, near the border with Brazil, at least two people were killed in clashes with security forces, according to a doctor at the hospital where they were treated. "He is sending us rotten food, thank you!"

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro has branded it a "show" and a smokescreen for a U.S. invasion.

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Protesters in the Venezuelan border town of Urena began squaring off with guardsmen early Saturday.

"What we're hoping is that the authorities in Venezuela will see this wonderful, peaceful concert ... and that the soldiers will do that right thing", Branson said.

British billionaire and adventurer Richard Branson is sponsoring a Live Aid-style concert featuring dozens of musicians including Latin rock star Juanes on one side of a crossing that Colombian officials have renamed the "Unity Bridge", while Maduro's socialist government is promising a three-day festival deemed "Hands Off Venezuela" on the other.

United States sanctions on the oil industry, Venezuela's only real source of hard currency, threaten further suffering in a nation wracked by hyperinflation and hunger.

On Saturday, Maduro turned his ire on Colombia and said President Ivan Duque's government was allowing its territory to be used for "attacks against Venezuela".

Maduro declared that he is breaking diplomatic relations with Colombia, which has called for his ouster and thrown its support to Guaidó.

Crowds let out confused murmurs and then cheers of elation when it was revealed that the fresh-faced lawyer had made his way across the border, the logistics of his trip having been kept top secret in order to prevent Maduro from enforcing the travel ban he imposed on him in late January.

In a sign of the importance of the issue to the White House, President Donald Trump's top national security adviser John Bolton canceled a weekend trip to South Korea to talk to allies ahead of a summit next week on North Korea's nuclear talks. As for humanitarian aid, Maduro's government is blocking it.

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