Venezuela Defense Chief Says Troops to Remain Loyal to Maduro

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Venezuela's defense minister says troops will remain stationed along the country's borders, a day after U.S. President Donald Trump said "all options are open" in the quest for a transition of power in Venezuela.Venezuelan Defense Minister Vladimir Padrino, in comments on state TV, on Tuesday rejected Trump's comments, calling them irresponsible and unprecedented."The armed forces will never receive orders from foreign powers and will remain deployed at the borders to avoid irregularities," he said.Padrino said military forces only obey orders from Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro. He said anyone trying to install what he called a puppet government would have to go "over the dead bodies" of the military forces. The U.S. and 50 other countries have recognized opposition leader Juan Guaido as Venezuela's interim president.On Monday, Trump told a Venezuelan-American audience in Florida the United States seeks “a peaceful transition of power [in Venezuela] but all options are open.” In his speech, delivered in Miami,Trump appealed to Venezuelan soldiers to ignore orders from Maduro and accept the amnesty offer made by Guaido."You will find no safe harbor, no easy exit and no way out,” he warned the soldiers. “You’ll lose everything.”Trump also warned members of the Venezuelan military to not block foreign aid intended for the country. Three U.S. military transport planes loaded with humanitarian aid for Venezuela landed in Cucuta, Colombia on Saturday, adding to the tons food and medicine waiting to cross the border. The aid sent from the U.S. and many other countries, however, has not yet reached any Venezuelans, but instead sits in towns in Colombia, Brazil and Curacao.Maduro says the aid is unnecessary and illegal and that to allow it to enter Venezuela would presage a U.S. military invasion.Venezuela suffers from shortages of food, medicine and other daily necessities and also has the worst inflation rate in the world. Three million people — about 10 percent of the country’s population — have fled the country.

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