Saturday, February 23, 2019

Aid - Humanitarian or Political?

The political situation in Venezuela is escalating as is the humanitarian crisis.  Maduro continues to deny there are significant food and medicine shortages in Venezuela and his armed forces have continued to kill protestors. Venezuela's population is without question in urgent need of aid. More and more people there are struggling just to exist; the supply chain of food and medicines has collapsed. The crises that the Venezuelan people are facing are, to a great extent, the responsibility of the Maduro government, that has been extremely corrupt, inefficient, and has become increasingly repressive.

But let us also be clear and avoid any misunderstanding what is happening on the borders of Venezuela is anything but a humanitarian aid operation. It is important to correct the disinformation. It is not oriented with any humanitarian aims. America's use of aid is for political purposes. Guaido, and his supporters are abusing the provision of humanitarian aid as an instrument of power. Guaido may gain good media coverage by being shown amidst packages of baby food, but it does not give him any political credibility. Ostensibly aimed at alleviating Venezuela’s spiraling crises of hunger, health, and security, the humanitarian aid put forward by the United States also serves another purpose.

If it were really about help for Venezuela's people, UN organizations such as the World Food Program and the Red Cross would be involved supply food to the country rather than the US government's USAID. The current political exploitation of humanitarian aid is making political hostages of an entire population and turning aid workers into accomplices in a bitter political power struggle. Virtually every major humanitarian organizations have kept their distance. 

The Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said that "If so-called aid material is forced into Venezuela, and then if it causes violence and clashes, it will have serious consequences."
Caracas is in debt to Russia to the tune of €12 billion ($13.6 billion). Maduro last week announced a that he was expecting a delivery of 300 tonnes of aid supplies from Russia. Such aid will also come with a heavy political price to pay.

Is Venezuela refusing aid? What Venezuela is refusing is politicized aid.

“We will not be participating in what is, for us, not humanitarian aid,” stated Colombia’s  Red Cross spokesperson, Christoph Harnisch.

“Humanitarian action needs to be independent of political, military or other objectives,” UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric, explained.

In the end who is going to suffer? The people. The poor. The vulnerable.

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