Interim President of Venezuela, Juan Guaido, has said that the efforts of Nicolas Maduro to block U.S. aid from coming into the country are a ‘crime against humanity.’ Guaido said this last week in an address to military officials as part of an offer of Amnesty to those who now choose to stop supporting Maduro. At a rally held in the capital city of Caracas on Tuesday 12th February, Guaido announced his own plans to coordinate volunteers to bring the aid in from collection points at the Colombian border in coming weeks.
Maduro has blocked the humanitarian aid from the United States at the Colombian border city of Cucuta amidst claims that the aid is a ‘charade’ and part of America’s plan to ‘take over Venezuela’. In an interview with the BBC, he attacked the Trump administration, labeling it as ‘a gang of extremists’ made up of members of the ‘Ku Klux Klan.’ Stating that Venezuela has ‘the capacity to satisfy all the needs of its people,’ Maduro gave a clear message to Trump: ‘tell the United States to keep its hands-off Venezuela.’
Guaido, who claimed that ‘almost 300,000 Venezuelans…will die if the aid doesn’t enter,’ should be praised for his ceaseless efforts to override Maduro’s blocks in order to ensure the U.S. aid can be received into the country. Political views regarding whoever the rightful president is should be cast to one side and the international community should instead, focus on the vital need of getting aid to the people of Venezuela. Maduro’s efforts to block aid at the border with Colombia are selfishly motivated by his hatred of America and his thirst for political domination. Venezuela now needs to be led by someone who is prepared to put the needs of its people first, and in the present moment, those needs are supplies of medicine and food. Maduro must not seek to disrupt Guaido’s plans to coordinate 250,000 volunteers to collect the aid from new collection points in ‘caravans’.
The relationship between Venezuela and the United States has been tense for many years. Maduro, who became president in 2013 and was re-elected for a second term last year, has long faced charges of corruption and as a result, the U.S. has repeatedly imposed sanctions upon his government, including upon state-owned oil company PDVSA. Trump’s declaration that military intervention in Venezuela still remained ‘an option’ further aggravated the animosity. Whilst Russia and China support Maduro’s government, the U.S. and the majority of western governments are backing Guaido, head of the opposition-led National Assembly. Guaido declared himself interim president on January 23rd, stating that the constitution allowed this temporary assumption of power because of an illegitimate election. Central to this political battle is the astounding level of inflation that has torn Venezuela apart and the humanitarian crisis that accompanies this. Since 2014, three million Venezuelans have fled the country in search of a better life.
The international community must not lose sight of the human lives at the center of the political contest in Venezuela. It is absolutely vital that Guaido is able to facilitate the U.S. humanitarian aid coming into the country from Colombia, enabling it to reach those who need it. Furthermore, the more decisions that Maduro makes to the detriment of Venezuela’s people, the less he appears to be a suitable leader in the eyes of the world.