Vladimir Padrino Lopez, the Venezuelan defence minister, has so far remained loyal to President MaduroMANAURE QUINTERO/REUTERS

President Maduro’s regime is suspending air and sea links with the Dutch Antilles, as a military leader claimed plans to ship humanitarian aid from the islands was a pretext for an invasion.

Delcy Rodriguez, vice-president, said Venezuela’s relations with the islands of Aruba, Bonaire and Curaçao were under revision and the border closure would be in place indefinitely. The Netherlands government had said that Curaçao, the largest of its Caribbean territories, would become one of three hubs for international aid to Venezuela.

The closure means commercial and fishing boats are prohibited from travelling between the mainland and the islands and all flights have been cancelled. Aruba, a tourist destination, is just 15 miles from the Venezuelan coast.

Willemstad, Curaçao. The island in the Dutch Antilles is one of three hubs for aidROBERT HARDING/GETTY IMAGES

Ms Rodriguez spoke hours after Vice-Admiral Quintero Martínez…