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Soldiers at the Venezuelan-Colombian border. Photo: Juan Barreto/AFP/Getty Images

As expected, yesterday brought violent clashes on the Venezuelan border. The Venezuelan opposition head Juan Guaidó, whom the U.S. and some 50 other countries recognize as Venezuela's legitimate leader, led a massive effort to force humanitarian aid across the Colombian border into Venezuela.

The bottom line: Embattled dictator Nicolás Maduro is rapidly isolating himself. He's shut down commercial airspace; he's broken diplomatic ties with neighboring Colombia; and the military still loyal to him are shooting Venezuelan civilians. 

  • The Trump administration — including President Trump, Vice President Pence, national security adviser John Bolton and the State Department — have been declaring their support for the aid effort and issuing warnings to Maduro. 
  • Bolton tweeted: "Masked thugs, civilians killed by live rounds, and the burning of trucks carrying badly-needed food and medicine. This has been Maduro’s response to peaceful efforts to help Venezuelans. Countries that still recognize Maduro should take note of what they are endorsing."

Why it matters: Guaidó and his allies set up this moment to test Maduro — to see whether his troops, the key to his power, would obey his orders.

What's next? Maduro clings to power but is having trouble with energy and resources. The U.S. government already has broad sanctions in place. But senior Trump officials are now identifying individuals to sanction — they're going one by one through the senior ranks of Maduro's regime.

  • Pence plans to have his first meeting with Guaidó, in Colombia tomorrow, signaling support after the weekend violence. (Reuters)
  • Sen. Marco Rubio tweeted last night: "After discussions tonight with several regional leaders it is now clear that the grave crimes committed today by the Maduro regime have opened the door to various potential multilateral actions not on the table just 24 hours ago."

Go deeper: Saturday's showdown in Venezuela will test strength of Maduro, Guaidó

Go deeper

The hard math behind America's labor shortage

Data: Bureau of Labor Statistics, Congressional Budget Office; Chart: Axios Visuals

Yes, the pandemic has created unusual temporary labor market dynamics. But in the bigger picture, the 2010s were a golden age for companies seeking cheap labor. The 2020s are not.

The big picture: In the 2010s, the massive millennial generation was entering the workforce, the massive baby bo0m generation was still hard at work, and there was a multi-year hangover from the deep recession caused by the global financial crisis.

Advocates fret Roe v. Wade's 49th anniversary could be its last

Photo: Leigh Vogel/Getty Images for Women's March Inc

As Saturday marks the 49th anniversary of Roe v. Wade, the Supreme Court's landmark decision that legalized abortion access in the U.S., advocates warn the ruling is "more at risk now than ever."

The big picture: The Supreme Court in December heard a challenge to a Mississippi 15-week abortion ban that could throw Roe's survival into question, or at least narrow its scope.

Updated 12 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Omicron dashboard

Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

  1. Health: Pfizer and Moderna boosters overwhelmingly prevent Omicron hospitalizations, CDC finds — Omicron pushes COVID deaths toward 2,000 per day — The pandemic-proof health care giant.
  2. Vaccines: The case for Operation Warp Speed 2.0 — Starbucks drops worker vaccine or test requirement after SCOTUS ruling — Kids' COVID vaccination rates are particularly low in rural America.
  3. Politics: Biden concedes U.S. should have done more testing — Arizona says it "will not be intimidated" by Biden on anti-mask school policies — Federal judge blocks Biden's vaccine mandate for federal workers.
  4. World: American Airlines flight to London forced to turn around over mask dispute — WHO: COVID health emergency could end this year — Greece imposes vaccine mandate for people 60 and older — Austria approves COVID vaccine mandate for adults.
  5. Variant tracker

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