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As protests intensify, Maduro's blockade has begun to falter in Venezuela

As protests intensify, Maduro's blockade has begun to falter in Venezuela

In a response statement Friday, Microsoft said it appreciated workers' input but will continue working with the military.

The US military, at the request of Guaido and in coordination with Colombia's hard-right President Ivan Duque, has been dropping tons of humanitarian aid near where Branson organized the concert.

His appearance, arm-in-arm with Colombian President Ivan Duque, was an open challenge to Maduro given that the pro-government Supreme Court has banned him from worldwide travel on grounds he is under investigation for allegedly helping foreign countries to interfere in internal matters.

Opposition leader Juan Guaido has massed supporters on both sides of the border to support a bid to bring in tons of US-supplied humanitarian aid from the Colombian city of Cucuta in defiance of Maduro who rejects the aid as a pretext for a United States intervention.

This week, President Trump cautioned the Maduro against blocking aid from entering Venezuela, warning his military allies that they would eventually "lose everything" if they fail to renounce him.

"This is the biggest battle that the armed forces can win", said Sheyla Salas, 48, who works in advertising. The Venezuelan leader said that his government will distribute thousands of boxes of aid to the poor in Colombia, a country with its own poverty and scarcity which has seen thousands of indigenous children die of starvation in recent years.

Also on Saturday, 13 members of Venezuela's security forces - National Guard troops and police officers - deserted their posts during the clashes and crossed the border into Colombia, according to the Colombian migration authority.

Reports say the incident took place in the Gran Sabana region, along Venezuela's southeast border with Brazil, home to the Pemon indigenous group.

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro said he would hold Colombian President Ivan Duque accountable for any violence on February 23 - the announced date for "aid" to the country.

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A group of almost 100 Microsoft workers signed a petition Friday calling on their employer to cancel a $480 million contract with the U.S. Army and to stop developing "any and all weapons technologies".

Venezuelan troops on Saturday morning had blocked the Brazilian border despite protests by villagers in the nearby town of Santa Elena de Uairen who burned a bus, a truck and a National Guard office overnight.

Witnesses say the security forces used tear gas and bullets while the demonstrators fought back with arrows and rocks.

Russian Federation has declared support for Mr Maduro's government, repeatedly accusing the United States of planning military action against the Venezuela president.

Colombia's government had said that aid trucks would be unloaded at the border and their cargo transported by "human chains" that formed on the road that leads toward Venezuela.

Venezuelans like Rosa Mora, 40, said they were still debating whether to heed the opposition's call for a mass mobilization at three bridges in the Cucuta area Saturday, fearful that they might be met with resistance by the military.

As head of the opposition-led National Assembly, Guaido invoked the constitution to declare himself interim president after saying Maduro's reelection previous year was a sham. The U.S. and several other nations have recognized opposition leader Juan Guaido as the leader of the country.

The effort has become a focus of the power struggle between Maduro and self-declared head of state Juan Guaido, whom Maduro calls a "clown".

The collapse in global energy prices, corruption and failed socialist policies have left oil-rich Venezuela's economy in shambles. The country now faces widespread food and medicine shortages and hyperinflation of over one million percent which makes even the most basic goods unattainable.

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