February 16, 2019 / 1:22 AM / a month ago

Venezuela opposition slams raid of NGO that supports humanitarian aid

VALENCIA, Venezuela (Reuters) - Venezuela’s opposition-run congress accused the police on Friday of illegally raiding the headquarters of a non-governmental organization that supports their plan to bring humanitarian aid into the country and confiscating medicine and baby milk.

The opposition, whose leader Juan Guaido has been recognized by more than 40 countries as Venezuela’s legitimate leader, is rallying foreign relief for the country to alleviate food and medicine shortages in the wake of an economic collapse, and has vowed to bring supplies into the country on Feb. 23.

Increasingly isolated President Nicolas Maduro denies there is a humanitarian crisis and says the aid effort is just an attempt to justify U.S. intervention in Venezuela.

Some NGOs have warned of politicizing aid, while others say they will support the opposition’s efforts given the extreme needs in some sectors of society.

Lawmaker Miguel Pizarro, who is heading up the national assembly’s relief efforts, said in a statement that police on Friday raided the seat of Manos por la Vida (“Hands for life”) and decommissioned items including “medicine and milk for pregnant mothers and children with HIV/AIDS”.

The director of Manos por la Vida, Eduardo Franco, told reporters that police did not have a warrant for the raid in Valencia, 150 km southeast of Caracas, and gave no explanation.

The Information Ministry did not reply to a request for comment.

Reporting by Tibisay Romero; Writing by Sarah Marsh; Editing by Sonya Hepinstall

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