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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

Caitlin Owens, author of Vitals
4 mins ago - Health

The next generation of coronavirus vaccines won't come as quickly

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A flood of cash from Operation Warp Speed helped coax a slew of biotech companies into the race for a coronavirus vaccine, but the incentives to keep working on new competitors won't be nearly as strong.

Why it matters: That initial flood of cash worked — it delivered multiple, highly effective vaccines in record time. In other disease areas, though, second- and third-generation vaccines usually become the dominant products. And the first COVID-19 vaccines aren't necessarily a great fit for the whole world.

The Biden climate doctrine emerges at summit

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

President Biden's climate summit is highlighting a White House approach that blends diplomacy, executive power, salesmanship and a few threats too.

  • Here are a few pillars of the emerging Biden doctrine.

Biden gets mixed grades on revolving door

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

President Biden is getting mixed marks for his reliance on industry insiders to staff his administration during its first 100 days.

Why it matters: Progressives have leaned on the new president to limit the revolving door between industry and government. A new report from the Revolving Door Project praises him on that front but highlights key hires it deems ethically questionable.

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