Burning Aid: An Interventionist Deception on Colombia-Venezuela Bridge?
Burning Aid: An Interventionist Deception on Colombia-Venezuela Bridge? by Max BLUMENTHAL for Strategic-Culture
The Trump administration’s coup against Venezuela culminated on February 23 with US-backed opposition attempting to ram several trucks loaded with boxes of USAID “humanitarian aid” across the previously unused Francisco de Paula Santander bridge connecting Colombia to Venezuela.
The trucks failed to reach the other side — but that was never really the point of the stunt. As Father Sergio Munoz, a right-wing Venezuelan activist posted on the Colombian side of the border, explained to journalist Dan Cohen, the humanitarian “aid” was a purely symbolic provocation aimed at discrediting Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro in international eyes and generating waves of destabilizing violence.
By the end of the day, the trucks lined up on the Francisca de Paula Santander bridge were flanked by gangs of guarimberos.
Photo courtesy: Telesur
These were the nihilistic masked youth who form the shock troops of the right-wing opposition, and who placed Caracas under siege with violent barricade protests, known as guarimbas, at several points between 2014 and 2017. A mob of guarimberos burned to death Orlando Figuera, a 22-year old black Venezuelan accused of supporting Maduro, on an eastern Caracas street in broad daylight, back in June 2017.
On the Santander bridge this February 23, the guarimberos rained down a hail of rocks and molotov cocktails on Venezuelan national guardsmen holding the line against the USAID trucks. Suddenly, the trucks caught fire and the masked youth began unloading boxes of aid before they burned. Within minutes, pro-opposition media reported that the Venezuelan national guard forces were responsible for the fires.
A reporter for the private anti-government channel NTN24 claimed without evidence that the Venezuelan security forces had caused the fires with tear gas:
The claim was absurd on its face. I have personally witnessed tear gas canisters hit every kind of vehicle imaginable in the occupied Palestinian West Bank, and I have never seen a fire like the one that erupted on the Santander bridge.
In 2013, the San Bernadino Sheriff’s Department deployed special incendiary teargas canisters (“burners”) to torch the house where fugitive cop killer Chris Dorner had holed up. But it is highly unlikely that the Venezuelan national guardsmen had anything like this weapon in their arsenal when they confronted the rioters on February 23.
The total lack of evidence of Venezuelan culpability did not stop Cuban-American Senator Marco Rubio from tweeting this accusation from nearby in Cucuta, Colombia: