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Curacao blocks Venezuela aid ship cargo: captain

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Curacao island authorities on Friday blocked Venezuelan opposition supporters from loading humanitarian aid donations onto a ship to sail to their country, officials said, with the government citing security.

The Venezuelans have flown containers to Curacao from private donors in the United States — part of a broader aid effort by Venezuela’s self-declared leader Juan Guaido to put pressure on President Nicolas Maduro.

The organizers tried on Friday to load the aid onto the Seven Seas supply ship, moored in the port of the Caribbean island 40 miles (65 kilometers) from Venezuela’s coast.

“The authorities here blocked the entrance of the containers with the humanitarian aid for Venezuela,” Seven Seas captain Carlos Quintavalle told AFP at the port.

Curacao has become one of the focal points of a volatile standoff between Guaido and Maduro.

The socialist president has branded the aid drive a sham and accused the United States of plotting to invade his country.

Guaido has vowed to bring in aid via Brazil, Colombia and Curacao, in defiance of Maduro and the military that backs him.

The use of Curacao as a sea transit point raised the prospect of a maritime confrontation.

Curacao government communications officer Corinne Leysner told AFP the island’s parliament had agreed to act as a hub for aid “but that goods cannot leave for Venezuela until there is a safe environment to receive them.”

She said the government could not permit the boat to leave with the shipment for security reasons after Maduro’s government ordered the closure of Venezuela’s sea and air borders with Curacao.

“It is a safety issue. Of course we want to help the people of Venezuela but we are not going to be choosing fights,” Leysner said.

The Curacao government said earlier in a statement that “the shipments from Curacao will only take place when the authorities in Venezuela agree.”

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