Published: Sat, February 09, 2019
Finance | By Loren Pratt

Venezuela: Maduro rejects humanitarian aid as nation starves

Venezuela: Maduro rejects humanitarian aid as nation starves

People cross the Simon Bolivar International Bridge on the border between Tachira in Venezuela and Cucuta in Colombia, on February 7, 2019.

Venezuela's collapse under U.S. sanctions and the rule of socialist President Nicolas Maduro, with the country plunged into poverty and driving some 3 million people to flee overseas, has led to further USA intervention in backing opposition leader Juan Guaido after he declared himself president last month.

With the Venezuelan military still apparently loyal to Maduro, a source in Washington close to the opposition expressed doubts whether the Trump administration has laid enough groundwork to spur a wider mutiny in the ranks where many officers are suspected of benefiting from corruption and drug trafficking.

'We have been threatened by the U.S. empire, ' said Venezuela's embattled president Nicolás Maduro.

Millions of Venezuelans have migrated, and those left behind struggle to afford scarce supplies of food and medicine. Guaido called upon the worldwide community for humanitarian aid. A number of countries, including the United States, have accused Maduro of stealing the election.

Despite having the world's largest oil reserves, Venezuela is in a historic crisis after 20 years of socialist rule launched by the late President Hugo Chavez.

Annen said steps needed to be take to ensure free and fair elections could be held in Venezuela, adding, "That is something Mr". Some anti-Maduro leaders are jailed and others have fled Venezuela fearing for their safety.

The dire situation has fueled a political crisis that has peaked over the last month with opposition leader Juan Guaido invoking a constitutional provision to declare himself the legitimate president.

Offers of humanitarian assistance are coming in from around the world. The first shipment includes food kits for 5,000 Venezuelans and high-protein nutritional supplements that can treat an estimated 6,700 young children with moderate malnutrition. It arrived at the Colombian border city of Cucuta, where volunteers are bagging them in preparation for attempts to bring them across the border.

The boxes of emergency aid came from the U.S. Agency for International Development, and are marked with USAID labels.

Maduro has refused the aid, disavowing any humanitarian crisis and saying Venezuela is not a country of beggars.

United Nations spokesman Stephane Dujarric told reporters in NY, "humanitarian action needs to be independent of political, military or other objectives".

Previous rounds have targeted dozens of Venezuelan military and government officials, including Maduro himself, and last month finally hit the OPEC member's vital oil sector. "Venezuela keeps going!" Maduro said at a recent pro-government rally.

"That seems to be a growing popular opinion by many Venezuelans, they view that the only way to get that this criminal government out of power is by a coercive force", said Ana Quintana, Latin America policy analyst at The Heritage Foundation in Washington.

"We do not agree with the content of the document", Maduro said.

Venezuelan leader Nicolas Maduro said on Friday that he would not allow "fake" humanitarian aid to enter the country.

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