Venezuela aid from US lands in Curacao

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Willemstad, Curaçao (Netherlands Antilles) (AFP) - A plane carrying food and medical aid from the United States landed on the Caribbean island of Curacao Thursday en route to Venezuela, whose government has vowed to block it.

AFP reporters saw the jet land at the airport in Curacao, one of the focal points of a volatile standoff between Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro and self-declared head of state Juan Guaido.

A dozen Venezuelan opposition supporters cheered and sang their national anthem as the plane touched down after flying from Miami.

Cargo handlers started unloading pallets of aid in which bottles of water were visible.

The pro-opposition organizers of the shipment say it will help relieve Venezuelans suffering in a severe economic crisis.

One of them, Miguel Rodriguez, said the plane contained 50 tons of food and medicine for Venezuelans suffering shortages.

He told AFP a boat was ready to ship the aid to Venezuela, whose coast lies some 40 miles away.

He said the pallets would be transferred by Saturday to a nearby seaport pending the local government's authorization to sail for Venezuela.

"We are waiting for the conditions to be in place. We want this to be resolved in the coming hours so that the aid can get to Venezuela."

Maduro has branded the aid a "show" and a smokescreen for a US invasion. His supporters have rallied in the streets to denounce the aid as a sham.

Maduro has vowed to block other consignments of aid from entering Venezuela across the Colombian and Brazilian borders. His government has also ordered sea and air links with Curacao to be suspended.

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