Venezuelan opposition envoy says Brazil will send aid to border

Venezuelan opposition representative Maria Teresa Belandria, who was received as her country's official ambassador to Brazil, smiles after a news conference in Brasilia, Brazil February 11, 2019. REUTERS/Ueslei Marcelino

BRASILIA (Reuters) - Venezuelan opposition envoy Maria Teresa Belandria was received as her country's official ambassador in Brazil on Monday and said Brazil's government would provide all possible support to get humanitarian aid to the border.

Belandria told reporters that several Brazilian government agencies would be involved in the aid operation, which would open up a second route for food and medicine to enter Venezuela after the main one in Colombia.

The lawyer and international law expert was appointed Venezuelan ambassador to Brazil by opposition leader Juan Guaidó, who has been recognised by dozens of countries as the head of Venezuela's legitimate government instead of leftist President Nicolas Maduro.

The envoy does not have access to the Venezuelan embassy facilities in Brasilia.

"I am now Venezuela's diplomatic representative. We don't need a building to be an embassy," she said at a news conference at Brazil's Foreign Ministry.

Belandria met with Foreign Minister Ernesto Araujo to discuss, among other matters, ways to "send food and medicine to alleviate the suffering of the Venezuelan people subjected to Maduro's illegitimate regime," the ministry said in a statement.

The aid to be sent to the Brazilian state of Roraima bordering Venezuela would not only come from the United States, but from Brazil's government, private companies and other nations, she said.

Asked whether the Venezuelan military would allow the aid into the country, Lester Toledo, coordinator for international humanitarian aid and an opposition state legislator, replied: "The soldiers know this is food that will go to the children."

Venezuela's government has blocked the aid the United States sent to the country's border with Colombia. On Friday, Maduro ridiculed the United States for offering small amounts of assistance while maintaining sanctions that block some $10 billion of offshore assets and revenue.

(Reporting by Lisandra Paraguassú and Anthony Boadle; Editing by David Gregorio and Peter Cooney)