National Assembly deputy Miguel Pizarro held a press conference today in which he provided some details on the much-awaited arrival of humanitarian aid in Venezuela, the first of which is due to be brought into the country this weekend.
Pizarro spoke specifically on the aid that is scheduled to come in from Cucuta, Colombia. On the provenance of the aid, Pizarro said:
What’s coming from Cucuta comes from three [sources]: Venezuelan businesses located in Colombia, supplies from the Colombian government, and another part that was offered by the U.S.
Pizarro also suggested that the opposition has yet to organize the aid that had been offered to Venezuela recently by Germany, Canada, Puerto Rico, Argentina and Chile.
Turning to the logistical matter of how the aid is going to physically enter Venezuela, Pizarro spoke directly to the border guards and other soldiers who may be called upon by the Maduro regime to stop the aid from entering the country. Pizarro said:
To the soldiers, who are not part of the generalato corrupto [roughly, “higher level corruption”], those who don’t live like kings but rather wear torn uniforms and broken boots: this aid is also for your family.
Pizarro also stressed that the aid “was not a handout”, and pointed to all Venezuelans who suffer today from lack of access to food, medicine and other basic necessities as evidence that the aid is urgently needed.
Speaking later on the floor of the National Assembly, Pizarro tried once more to persuade soldiers to lend a hand with the deliver of the aid. Referencing the Amnesty Law, Pizarro said:
We know that you feel intimidated, but you must know that Maduro does not protect anyone [and] we do.
The deputy also stressed that the matter that the country’s opposition coalition was not taking the matter of the arrival of the aid lightly. He explained that its arrival would be more than a photo op, saying:
We don’t want to take a picture beside the humanitarian aid boxes. The National Assembly is going to be a coordinating body.
Pizarro said that the NGOs who have been organizing the marshaling of the aid “have been working in an almost clandestine fashion”, and stressed that going forward “everything that happens needs to be transparent“.
On fears that the aid might be distributed along political lines, Pizarro said:
We’re not going to discriminate the aid by political colours. We’re not going to make the aid a partisan [issue]. This isn’t about empty speeches so that you’ll clap for us; rather, this is about helping children, pregnant women, the elderly, and [hospital] patients effectively.
Red Cross, Red Crescent Venezuela Clarify Role in Aid Delivery
The Red Cross and Red Crescent in Venezuela issued a statement today clarifying its role in the handling of any humanitarian aid destined for Venezuela.
In its statement, the Venezuelan branch of the international organization said that it was committed to sticking to its core principles, “specially Impartiality, Neutrality and Independence”, and that:
The Red Cross, to accomplish its mission, expresses its willingness and capability to continue to assist, through humanitarian aid, the people and their needs, specially during these times.
It is not clear from the statement at which point in the chain the Red Cross would be able to begin lending assistance.
Maduro Scoffs at Aid, Says Venezuelans “Aren’t Beggars”
Bloomberg published an article today in which it quoted Maduro’s take on the possibility of international aid arriving in the country. According to Bloomberg, Maduro suggested that receiving aid is a form of humilitation because
Venezuelans “are not beggars”.
We are not beggars. You want to come humiliate Venezuela and I will not let our people be humiliated.
Maduro made the comments during a televised address last night.
Bloomberg cited Eurasia Group Analyst Risa Grais-Targow as saying that Maduro’s position regarding the aid is “lose-lose”, since he will either have to order the military to stop the much needed supplies from entering the country, while allowing them to enter would weaken his own position as president and undermine years of denial about the humanitarian crisis in the country.
In an interview with RT published today, Maduro said that the matter of the humanitarian aid was “a political show” meant to act as cover for some kind of foreign intervention in Venezuela. During the same interview, Maduro asserted that “imperialism”–likely in reference to the United States and more generally to wealthy countries–have never provided any kind of aid to anyone in the world.
Imperialism doesn’t help anyone in the world. Tell me, where in the world have they sent humanitarian aid?
During the same interview, Maduro suggested that it is not true that millions of Venezuelans have left the country in recent years due to the catastrophic collapse of the country. Maduro said:
We have very power internal figures. For example, the number of children in school for 2018-2019 jumped 7%. Electrical consumption jumped 6%. The number of workers working jumped 7%. These are concrete numbers. Gas consumption jumped tremendously, 12%… so, if there three or five million people had left, we would have ghost cities… now, for the first time, we’re due to economic reasons, we’re seeing an important [level of] migration.
The Venezuelan migrant crisis is well documented, and has arguably been the biggest story in Latin America of the last year. In November of last year, the United Nations Refugee Agency that as many as 3 million Venezuelans now live abroad.
Below, the Refugee Agency’s regional estimate of Venezuelan migrants as of November of last year:
- Colombia: 1,000,000+
- Peru: 500,000+
- Ecuador: 220,000
- Argentina: 130,000
- Chile: 100,000+
- Brazil: 85,000
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