Opposition leader Juan Guaido says his team had delivered a first cargo of the humanitarian aid that has become a flashpoint in his tussle with President Nicolas Maduro.

A man holds a banner that reads
A man holds a banner that reads "Thank you international community" near a warehouse where humanitarian aid for Venezuela is being stored near the Tienditas cross-border bridge between Colombia and Venezuela in Cucuta, Colombia, February 8, 2019. (Reuters)

Nearly three weeks after President Donald Trump's administration backed an all-out effort to force out President Nicolas Maduro, the embattled socialist leader is holding strong and defying predictions of an imminent demise.

Dozens of nations have recognised opposition leader Juan Guaido's claim to the presidency and the US has tightened sanctions aimed at cutting off billions of dollars in oil revenue. But anti-Maduro street protests have come and gone, and large-scale military defections have failed to materialise.

With the US seen as considering military action only as a last resort, Guaido is trying to regain momentum with an effort this week to move US emergency food and medicine into Venezuela despite Maduro's pledge to block it.

Guaido said on Monday his team had delivered a first cargo of the humanitarian aid that has become a flashpoint in his tussle with Maduro, without specifying how it had received it.

Despite having the world's largest oil reserves, Venezuela is suffering soaring levels of malnutrition, disease and violence.

TRT World's Ediz Tiyansan has more.

First cargo of humanitarian aid

Guaido tweeted a photo of himself surrounded by stacks of white pots of vitamin and nutritional supplements. He did not say from where or whom they came.

"Today we delivered the first donation, or the first cargo of humanitarian aid, albeit on a small scale, because you know they have blocked the border for the time being," Guaido, 35, said in televised remarks in Caracas on Monday evening.

Venezuela's opposition has been coordinating an effort by Western nations, companies and organisations to deliver aid to Venezuela where malnutrition and preventable disease have proliferated in recent years as the economy has nosedived.

Maduro has said this is part of a US-orchestrated strategy to undermine and ultimately overthrow him.

He says he will not allow this "show."

The United States last month recognised Guaido as Venezuela's legitimate leader after he declared himself president. Guaido argued Maduro's re-election last year was a sham. The United States has since been joined by a majority of Western nations.

Senior US officials last week heralded their country's efforts to move aid to Venezuela's doorstep, after US supplies were among those delivered to the first collection point established, in the Colombian border town of Cucuta.

There has been no sign of the aid that is being stockpiled in Cucuta leaving the warehouse.

Guaido, who has appealed to the military to allow in the aid, has said it will be collected at points in Brazil and a Caribbean island as well as Cucuta.

Brazil has not yet commented on whether aid is being gathered at any point there.

Leaders of the indigenous Pemon community in the Venezuelan town that contains the only paved border crossing into Brazil have told Reuters they are determined to let aid pass through when and if it arrives.

Meanwhile, Lester Toledo, coordinator of international humanitarian aid for the opposition, told Reuters on Monday he received approval from the Netherlands to speak with the local governments of Aruba and Curacao about setting up an aid centre there.

"(Guaido) will announce the day when, from Colombia, from the islands by sea, and from Brazil the humanitarian aid will arrive simultaneously," Toledo said.

Guaido has so far avoided arrest, but the general comptroller announced Monday it was opening an investigation into Guaido's assets in a new escalation of the confrontation between the government and the National Assembly.

"It's not help"

On Monday, Venezuela socialist party chief, Diosdado Cabello, spoke at a rally in Venezuela's border city of Urena, across from Cucuta, crowding the streets with Maduro loyalists wearing the red shirts of the socialist party and waving flags.

Addressing the crowd, Cabello asserted Venezuelans tell him not to give in to pressure from the United States, saying they are willing to endure whatever they must to maintain freedom from imperialist rule. He said the US supplies were sent in a showy display aimed at justifying a coup.

"It's not help and it's not humanitarian," he said to cheers from roughly 1,000 Maduro supporters, including civilians and soldiers.

Source: TRTWorld and agencies