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article imageVenezuela state internet provider blocks volunteer aid page

By AFP     Feb 18, 2019 in Internet

Venezuela's state internet provider CANTV has blocked a webpage where volunteers sign up to answer National Assembly president Juan Guaido's call to help bring in desperately needed humanitarian aid, the opposition said on Monday.

Guaido says he wants one million volunteers by Saturday, the deadline day he has set to bring in the aid piling up at the border with Colombia and aiming to alleviate food and medicine shortages.

Last week the opposition hit out at CANTV for redirecting the volunteers webpage to another almost identical looking site to prevent more people from signing up to self-declared acting president Guaido's cause.

"Already there's been this fake webpage and, now, they prefer to simply block the internet," Hasler Iglesias, a member of Guaido's Voluntad Popular party, told AFP.

In tests carried out by AFP, the volunteer website was not accessible through CANTV but was by using other server providers.

Already, 600,000 people have signed up as volunteers.

Venezuela is in the midst of a humanitarian crisis and Guaido says 300,000 people could die without the aid.

President Nicolas Maduro has vowed to prevent the aid entering Venezuela and soldiers loyal to the socialist leader have barricaded the border crossing between Colombia and Venezuela that an aid convoy would need to take.

Maduro says the aid is a "publicity show" and a pretext for a US-led invasion.

He denies the country is suffering a humanitarian crisis and blames its problems on US sanctions.

Guaido, recognized by 50 countries as Venezuela's interim president, has ordered the military to allow in the aid and said one way or another it would enter on Saturday.

The opposition has advised would-be volunteers to either access the www.voluntariosxvenezuela.com site through private providers or to use a VPN to bypass the blocade.

Media critical of Maduro frequently complain of being blocked by CANTV, the principal provider of telephone and internet services in the country.

An estimated 2.3 million Venezuelans have fled the country since 2015 due to the problems caused by recession and hyperinflation.

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