ON AIR NOW

LISTEN NOW

Weather

cloudy-day
63°
Light Rain
H 84° L 61°
  • cloudy-day
    63°
    Current Conditions
    Light Rain. H 84° L 61°
  • rain-day
    64°
    Afternoon
    Light Rain. H 84° L 61°
  • rain-day
    63°
    Evening
    Rain. H 66° L 62°
LISTEN
PAUSE
ERROR

The latest top stories

00:00 | 00:00

LISTEN
PAUSE
ERROR

The latest traffic report

00:00 | 00:00

LISTEN
PAUSE
ERROR

The latest forecast

00:00 | 00:00

World
Maduro challenger plans caravans for US aid to Venezuela
Close

Maduro challenger plans caravans for US aid to Venezuela

Maduro challenger plans caravans for US aid to Venezuela
Photo Credit: AP Photo/Fernando Llano
Demonstrators chant "Maduro out" during an anti-government protest against Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro in Urena, Venezuela, Tuesday, Feb. 12, 2019, on the border with Colombia. Nearly three weeks after the Trump administration backed an all-out effort to force out Maduro, the embattled leader is holding strong and defying predictions of an imminent demise. (AP Photo/Fernando Llano)

Maduro challenger plans caravans for US aid to Venezuela

Opposition leader Juan Guaido said Tuesday that he will try to run caravans of badly needed food and medicine into Venezuela but won't start for nearly two weeks, a timeline that threatens to deflate momentum toward unseating entrenched President Nicolas Maduro.

Surrounded by thousands of cheering supporters, Guiado set Feb. 23 as the date for bringing in the badly needed U.S. assistance that has been warehoused on the Colombian border since last week, but he provided few details.

The 11-day wait was sure to be a disappointment for Venezuelans desperate for the supplies. More than 2 million people have fled the country's soaring hyperinflation and severe food and medical shortages over the last two years. The minimum wage, which most Venezuelans earn, amounts to less than $6 a month, and it is common to see people scouring garbage for food in the streets of Caracas.

"Right now, I'm going to give this order to the armed forces: Allow in the humanitarian aid. That's an order," Guaido told the mass of people gathered in Caracas.

Despite the authoritative-sounding assertion, there has been little evidence that the allegiance of the security forces — the country's key powerbroker — has swung behind Guaido, a virtually unknown lawmaker until last month, when he took the helm of the National Assembly.

Guaido provided few details on how the aid would be brought in from the Colombian border city of Cucuta, except to call for mobilizing caravans of Venezuelans — a daring and potentially dangerous maneuver that could lead to more violent confrontation with the security forces.

At least 40 people have already been killed in clashes since the 35-year-old lawmaker declared himself interim president Jan. 23.

Jose Manuel Olivares, Guiado's representative in helping lead the aid mission from Colombia, acknowledged the risk, saying he and other lawmakers plan to be at the front of the Feb. 23 push to get the aid in, even if it means risking their lives.

"We have never told people to do something we are not willing to do," he said. "We're going to be there with people taking the risk."

Diego Moya-Ocampos, a Venezuela analyst with the London-based consulting firm IHS Global Insight, said Guaido has gained broad support beyond the middle classes and deep into Venezuela's slums, once a stronghold of the ruling socialist party.

But that hasn't translated into support from the military and security forces, who Moya-Ocampos said continue to distrust the opposition and fear being held accountable for criminal activity and human rights violations if the regime changes, despite Guaido's offer of amnesty.

"The military has had more than one opportunity to withdraw support for Maduro," Moya-Ocampos said. "It has consistently continued to back him."

On the international stage, Guaido has won backing from nearly 60 countries, including the United States, which has pledged an initial $20 million in support and has already shipped emergency food and medicine. Canada says it will send $53 million in aid.

Guaido told the crowd that thousands of volunteers he has recruited online would help organize the food and medical supplies and get them across from Colombia. He also announced a second collection point for aid to be brought in from Brazil.

Maduro backers, meanwhile, gathered at a square in the capital, cheering and waving flags. They spoke out on state TV against intervention from what they called the "U.S. empire," saying Maduro is Venezuela's rightful president.

"We know that behind this supposed humanitarian aid is the intention to intervene in Venezuela," Vice President Delcy Rodriguez said on state TV. "It's a cheap show."

Despite having the world's largest oil reserves, Venezuela is gripped by widespread malnutrition, disease and violence after 20 years of socialist rule launched by the late President Hugo Chavez. Critics accuse Maduro, Chavez's hand-picked successor, of unfairly winning an election last year for a second six-year term by banning his popular rivals from running and jailing others.

Maduro has made a show of overseeing military operations played on state TV almost daily. He has jogged with troops in formation, mounted an amphibious tank and railed against what he says is an impending U.S. invasion that he has likened to a Latin American Vietnam.

Maduro says the humanitarian aid is part of a U.S.-led coup to topple him and won't let it across the border. Venezuela's military last week barricaded a key bridge between Venezuela and Colombia in an apparent attempt to keep the aid from entering.

On Tuesday, protesters called on Maduro to relent, citing epidemic hunger and illnesses that can't be treated in Venezuela.

"Nicolas Maduro should put his hand on his heart and accept that aid," said Mayerly Prada, among a group of protesters on the Colombian side of the Tienditas International Bridge. "It's help for many Venezuelans like my son."

Prada, a 24-year-old mother of two, said she left her home in Venezuela last week after her 2-year-old son came down with a rash and he wasn't able to get treatment at home. She hoped to get medicine and return to Venezuela.

Juan Carlos Capacho, a councilman from the Colombian border city of Cucuta, which has been inundated with Venezuelan migrants, said the outcome depends on what the people of Venezuela do next.

"The call to the Venezuelan people is to get out and define their destiny," he said. "We are certain there is no barricade, no chain, no obstacle that can detain the march of history."

___

Associated Press writer Scott Smith reported this story in Caracas and AP writer Christine Armario reported from Cucuta, Colombia.

Read More

The Latest News Headlines

  • Four days after the announcement of a series of executive actions to fund his signature border wall, President Donald Trump’s administration still needs to fill in the details on his plans to shift over $6.6 billion from the Pentagon and Treasury Department into funding border security, as members of Congress continue to wonder if the move will dig into their local military base construction projects. On Capitol Hill, lawmakers and their staffs were awaiting guidance on where the Pentagon would look for money in the $3.6 billion sought by the President in his emergency declaration from military construction projects, which was already the subject of new lawsuits. “Congress has not enacted any emergency legislation even remotely related to border wall construction, and thus the President’s reallocation of funds is unlawful,” read a suit filed against the President and Pentagon by several environmental groups. In a letter to the Acting Secretary of Defense, Sen. Tim Kaine (D-VA) asked for a breakdown of which projects would be put on hold – as under the ‘national emergency’ law used by the President, the Pentagon would make those decisions – not the Congress. Congress approved $10.3 billion for military construction in Fiscal Year 2019 – the $3.6 billion sought by the President would be more than one-third of that amount – which has drawn expressions of concern from lawmakers. As Kaine noted in his letter, the move to shift money from military construction comes at a time when the Pentagon already was having to deal with hurricane damage at two major domestic bases – Camp Lejeune for the Marines in North Carolina, and Tyndall Air Force Base in Florida. Tyndall was seriously damaged by Hurricane Michael in 2018 – and despite support for rebuilding the base, Congress has not yet acted on extra money for the Pentagon – or on broader hurricane relief for those hit in Florida and Georgia. During the partial government shutdown, Democrats in the House approved a bill which had $12.1 billion in disaster aid, both for hurricanes and wildfires – but that bill does not seem to be on the agenda in the U.S. Senate at this point. @DrNealDunnFL2 Dr Dunn, we are hearing here in the Panhandle that Trump is going after Tyndall rebuilding money for his wall. Please don’t let this happen! No Tyndall would be catastrophic to our area. Please help! — Billy Shears (@BillyShears9) February 14, 2019 The Commandant of the Marine Corps said over the weekend that he needs $3.5 billion just for repairs at Camp LeJeune from damage caused by Hurricane Florence in September of 2018 – which is equal to the figure of how much in military construction the President wants to shift into a border wall. Earlier this month, Air Force officials said they planned to spend $3 billion to rebuild Tyndall, which was flattened by Hurricane Michael in October of last year. House Democrats say they plan to hold a hearing as soon as next week to get a better idea on what military construction projects the Pentagon wants to scrap – in order to move money to the wall. Also still unclear is the legal underpinnings for two other moves announced last week by the White House, where the President would move money from a Treasury Department drug forfeiture fund, as well as money from a Pentagon anti-drug account – into a border wall.
  • JEA employees should expect to see some soggy carpets and heavy-duty drying equipment when they get to work Tuesday. An internal communication sent to employees says nine floors in the 19-story tower have experienced areas of flooding, in connection to several different issues. JEA says an under-counter water heater on the 8th floor failed on Sunday, flooding that break room and causing problems all the way down to the second floor. The water has soaked ceiling tiles, cabinets, and boxes in copy rooms and surrounding spaces. On Monday, JEA says a water supply line to the ice machine on the 14th floor failed, flooding that break room and surrounding areas. JEA says that leak caused damage to the 12th floor as well, although it appears the 13th floor was spared. A third issue happened at the Customer Center lobby, where there was a water leak from the HVAC system that damaged a ceiling tile. It was removed and will be replace when they are done handling the Tower, according to JEA. JEA Managing Director and CEO Aaron Zahn tweeted that JEA service will continue. JEA says no employees are displaced by this flooding, because it is largely around break rooms. Employees are cautioned to expect soggy carpets, fans drying some areas, and equipment to extract water in others. They will try to minimize the impact of the equipment, but say there will be extra noise. This comes as JEA considers bids for a new headquarters building. When this process started, the driving factors for seeking a new location were that the current building was too large and was in need of substantial repairs. The Board of Directors has three bids under consideration, Lot J by TIAA Bank Field, Kings Avenue Station on the Southbank, and West Adams Street by the County Courthouse. The Board will make a selection in April, but constructing and handing over the facility is expected to take more than two years to do. WOKV has asked JEA for more information about the state of the Tower and extent of repairs needed. We will update you as that information comes in.
  • The University of North Florida is making some changes after communication problems last week during a threat of a potential shooter on campus. Investigators determined the threat was bogus and had been called in by a woman with mental health issues, but UNF spokesperson Sharon Ashton says they've decided to make several policy changes in case there's an actual threat in the future.  'We will be retraining everyone in the UPD, University Police Department, to make sure they understand the priority of how to best communicate a message,' Ashton says.  She says the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office contacted the UPD on Feb. 11 at 5:50 p.m. to tell them someone had called saying they saw a person with a gun at the arena parking garage. About 20 minutes later, the 911 operator in the campus communications center was told to send out an alert telling the campus to shelter in place.  'Unfortunately the UNF 911 operator chose to send out that message via email instead of text message or phone call, which are the most immediate ways to get the word out,' Ashton says.  She says the operator also had the option to use the public address system, both inside buildings and externally in parking lots, but she decided against that as well.  Ashton says those decisions caused a domino effect that made the situation worse. She says the vendor the school uses to send out emails tried to send out 40,000 alerts, but about 1,500 of those messages were never delivered.  After all the problems, it was decided a debriefing should be held with the school's president, campus police and the crisis management team. Ashton says now they are putting safeguards in place.  Those safeguards include posting detailed instructions in the communications center to ensure everyone knows the best way to get a message out quickly in case of emergency. They are also looking at increasing the number of employees in the center, because Ashton says the 911 calls start coming in rapidly in a situation like the one last week.  Ashton says when the crisis management team holds their monthly meeting in March, they will go through last week's scare minute by minute to talk about what occurred and what should have occurred.  She also says they will work with the email vendor to make sure there's a way to send all 40,000 emails without getting some of them hung up.  'In hindsight there are some things with communication that could have been done better, and we will work on that because safety is the number one priority,' Ashton says.
  • With the aim of streamlining the overall system and aiding investigations by the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office, the City Council is now considering a plan to spend close to $3.5 million upgrading and replacing security cameras and related systems at City buildings. WOKV previously reported that $3 million was set aside for this as part of the annual budget process. Several departments had sought upgraded equipment, and the Administration decided to form a working group to look at the need from a more broad perspective, rather than continuing to have each department handle their own procurement. Details obtained by WOKV now show that working group has recommended 1,666 new cameras from three main vendors- Lenel, Geutebruck, and Optiview. That includes new cameras mainly at public libraries, the County Courthouse, and Tax Collector branches, as well as a few other locations and some recording and storage upgrades. The overall ask totals $3,456,857, though. The $456,857 that’s over the $3 million already set aside will come from Public Parking’s budget and will focus specifically on new cameras for the Ed Ball garage and Water Street garage, as well as a new video recording server for all Public Parking locations. IN DEPTH: Jacksonville’s $1.2 billion budget Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry’s Chief of Staff Brian Hughes, who led up the working group on this matter, says this recommendation reduces the number of vendors being used and involves vendors that IT employees are already familiar with. He says looking at this from a more broad perspective also let them realize some cost savings, as part of negotiating a larger deal. But the biggest impact in these upgrades could instead be on the benefit it may provide to JSO. “Making sure that, if we make these investments in technology for video surveillance, that they were systems that would integrate with JSO’s programming,” Hughes says. Currently, if JSO sees City surveillance cameras that may have captured something important to an investigation, they have to work through a process of requesting that footage and then physically obtaining it, according to Hughes. He says that’s because the current camera system uses recording and storage devices that are not network- or cloud-based. In recent months, the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office has been setting up a “Real-Time Crime Center”, which is built around software called CommandCentral Aware, which grabs many different information feeds and streamlines them to then relay to first responders and investigators. By replacing the current cameras and recording systems with ones that are compatible with wireless networking, the new infrastructure can feed in to the CommandCentral Aware system directly, meaning video that used to take hours or more to obtain can now be accessed very quickly. IN DEPTH: What is a “Real Time Crime Center” “If, let’s say, something happened on a street, any street. If they [JSO] know a government building is there and it’s a cloud-based system that they’ve logged in to their capabilities, they can- in a much faster time- access the feed and say ‘Oh, that camera faces out on to the street that we want to see if a car drove by’, or see who was walking on the street, or driving by at the moment when an incident happened,” Hughes says. The RTCC system is able to search those video feeds and synch up various streams, in an effort to create a comprehensive look at a scene and find potential evidence and leads.  These camera replacements represent the needs that were expressed to the Administration in the lead up to the last budget cycle, but not all of the cameras and infrastructure in the City. WOKV asked if the Administration’s intent is to continue replacing this tech at their end of life, or if they will look at proactively upgrading existing tech in order to further support the RTCC. “Those decisions are obviously budget impact decisions, and we try to weigh all the priorities that are coming forth in the budget process, as we prepare for Council’s consideration. But, obviously, public safety is a number one priority for the Mayor, so wherever we can find the possibility of contributing to public safety, we will. But we have to balance that, as always, with all of the other budget priorities,” Hughes says. He says this process will help guide them in the event other City departments request security camera and system upgrades in the next budget. They are looking at several different vendors because Hughes says there are unique needs that each one can address in various departments, but the core focus is that all of the upgrades will be capable of wireless- and cloud based-networking. City Council must still approve this plan in the coming weeks, although the money that’s being used has already been earmarked for these purposes. If approved, Hughes says there will be some steps that take place in procurement, but they will look to deploy the new cameras and systems as soon as possible. The RTCC is also fed by programs like ShotSpotter, which detects the sound of gunshots and alerts police, even if there is no 911 cal that’s placed. It further integrates the National Integrated Ballistic Information Network, which compares ballistic evidence against other cases. JSO recently doubled the equipment they have to process evidence through NIBIN. While the intelligence-based technology and systems continue to expand in Jacksonville, City leaders have also tried other measures to reach in to neighborhoods to address violence, through a program awarding grants to small community organizations. JSO has also been rolling out hundreds of body cameras. Despite that, we saw a spike of violence in Jacksonville this past weekend, with at least seven shootings leaving four people dead and five others hurt. WOKV will continue to press City leadership for insight on what kind of returns these investments are getting.
  • With oil prices hitting some of their highest levels in months, gas prices are also expected to climb.  That coming from senior petroleum analyst Patrick DeHaan with GasBuddy.com, as he says for Jacksonville that'll mean a notable price increase at some point this week.  'That may take the average up from $2.17 where it stands today, back up to $2.29, maybe even $2.39 a gallon,' says DeHaan.  DeHaan says the spike will likely come without much warning, as he says Jacksonville has started to become a 'quick-jump' city.  'You may go to work in the morning, then you come home and see prices much higher,' DeHaan explains.  DeHaan says the optimism surrounding U.S/China trade talks has helped propel oil prices, as well as the situation in Venezuela, which has seen sanctions being placed, effectively cutting off the flow of oil from that country.  DeHaan tells us, we're also seeing some seasonality to gasoline.  'Refiners are beginning maintenance season, which means that they're producing a little less gasoline as that maintenance is ongoing,' says DeHaan.  Behind this spike, don't expect prices to return to lower levels. DeHaan says gas prices have probably seen their bottom for the next 6 to 12 months.

The Latest News Videos