Venezuela closes border with Brazil

Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro announced Thursday he is closing the country's border with Brazil amid tensions over foreign aid deliveries to the embattled country.


Maduro announced the Brazil closure on state television and threatened to close the border with Colombia as well, according to a report by the The Associated Press.


Tensions between Venezuela and its two largest neighbors have flared since last month, as Colombia and Brazil followed the United States' lead in recognizing opposition leader Juan Guaidó as Venezuela's legitimate interim president.

Brazil, once seen as one of Venezuela's allies in the region, has taken a stronger stance on Maduro since the inauguration of President Jair Bolsonaro in January.

But Brazilian authorities have warned against foreign intervention in Venezuela, in part because of the Brazilian state of Roraima's energy dependence on its northern neighbor.

Still, the U.S. is pushing its allies in South America to stay the course against Maduro as the European Union and key regional players such as Mexico have pumped the brakes and called for dialogue.

Vice President Pence is scheduled to travel to Colombia next week and deliver a speech where he'll openly call for Maduro to step down.

The U.S. has levied sanctions against Venezuelan individuals and entities while using Maduro's refusal to accept humanitarian aid as a wedge issue between the Venezuelan government and people.

A set of dueling concerts will take place on the Colombia-Venezuela border Friday as international stars grouped together by billionaire Richard Branson hold a three-day music festival on the Colombian side of the Tienditas International Bridge, demanding Maduro allow international humanitarian aid into his country.

Maduro's government had previously set up a two-day music festival, dubbed "Hands Off Venezuela," at an alternate bridge, but on Wednesday he moved the festival to Tienditas and extended the dates to coincide with Branson's concert.

A U.S. delegation led by Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) took 20,000 boxes of food to the Tienditas Bridge last weekend ahead of a speech by President Trump on Venezuela Monday.

Venezuelan opposition leaders have said they'll meet the foreign aid at the borders with caravans to transport the aid, which Maduro calls a ploy to undermine his government.