Caracas, Feb 2 (AFP) Venezuela’s self-proclaimed acting president Juan Guaido said Saturday the opposition will start gathering humanitarian aid from Colombia and Brazil and urged the military to let it into the crisis-wracked country.

The opposition leader, who is challenging the authority of socialist President Nicolas Maduro, said the aid would be gathered in three places: Cucuta in Colombia, somewhere in Brazil and a Caribbean island.

The 35-year-old National Assembly president, speaking at a mass opposition rally in the east of Caracas, also announced the creation of a “global coalition for the humanitarian aid and Venezuela’s freedom,” without giving more details.

He said “what we need for our people to survive” would be gathered “in the coming days” before adding: “You, soldier… have the decision in your hands” to allow it in or not.

Maduro has so far refused to authorize the entry of humanitarian aid, arguing that it would precede a military intervention by those countries backing Guaido’s claim to authority.

The socialist leader was himself at a large street demonstration in central Caracas on Saturday to celebrate the 20th anniversary of his predecessor Hugo Chavez’s ascent to power.

Under Maduro’s stewardship, Venezuela has lurched into an economic crisis that has left the country with hyperinflation and shortages of food and medicine.

Venezuela is oil-dependent but its production has fallen to a 30-year low while the United States has cranked up the pressure on the ruling regime by slapping sanctions on state oil company PDVSA to try to starve Maduro and his inner circle of funds. (AFP)

This is published unedited from the PTI feed.