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Venezuelans around the country took to the streets on Tuesday hoping to turn up the heat on beleaguered President Nicolas Maduro and persuade the army to allow the delivery of humanitarian aid blocked behind the Colombian border.

"They have to let the aid in because people are dying from lack of medicine", said 72-year-old Armida Quintana, who stood on a plastic stool to see above crowds of thousands, many wearing Venezuelan flags as capes.

The opposition says the US -backed aid including food and medicine is needed due to Maduro's mishandling of the once-buoyant OPEC nation's economy, and they are working to get it delivered.

Guaido is trying to oust Maduro from office so he can establish a transitional government and hold new presidential elections.

Israel last month officially recognized the Venezuelan opposition leader's interim government, with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu saying in a short statement that "Israel joins the United States, Canada, most of the countries of Latin America and countries in Europe in recognizing the new leadership in Venezuela".

Guaido said he's mobilizing caravans of Venezuelans to deliver the humanitarian aid across the Colombian border on February 23, a month after he declared himself the interim president and called for Maduro to step down.

Venezuela is in the grip of recession and hyperinflation while millions of people are suffering from a shortage of basic necessities.

But the military has barricaded a border bridge linking the countries, with Maduro describing the aid as a "political show" and a pretext to a USA intervention.

"I hope there will be respect for global law and the Central Bank of Venezuela", said Maduro, who is under huge worldwide pressure to leave power so self-proclaimed acting president Guaido can set up a transitional government and hold new elections.

In an interview with the BBC aired Tuesday, Maduro referred to Trump's government as a "gang of extremists" and blamed the United States for the crisis destabilizing his country.

Guaido, 35, also said he was establishing a second collection point in Brazil.

He has warned the military that it will be held responsible for any deaths among the protesters on Tuesday.

Well, it's interesting, Judy, because a - the humanitarian aid is normally thought of as being purely humanitarian.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said he and U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo will discuss Venezuela by phone today.

Speaking to AFP last week, Guaido refused to rule out asking for foreign intervention. "Venezuela is not a country of starvation". Let it come, the convoy with money. He has demanded instead that Washington lift economic sanctions that it has ratcheted up in recent weeks.

His foreign minister Jorge Arreaza, met with U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Monday evening in NY.

Pope Francis has said he would also be prepared to mediate but Guaido has rejected negotiations with Maduro, believing he would use them to buy time. Almost three weeks after the Trump administration backed an all-out effort to force out President Nicolas Maduro, the embattled socialist leader is holding strong and defying predictions of an imminent demise.


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