Time for talks ‘long passed’: US weaponizes aid amid push for regime change in Venezuela
US President Donald Trump recognized opposition politician Juan Guaido as “legitimate president” of Venezuela last month. The State Department appointed neoconservative interventionist Elliott Abrams – who has a long and checkered past of meddling in Latin America – as its special envoy for freedom and democracy in Venezuela. On Thursday, Abrams told reporters at the State Department that Washington was not interested in any talks with Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro.
“The time for dialogue with Maduro has long passed,” he said, asserting that Maduro would “manipulate” any negotiations to his advantage.
Abrams: The time for dialogue with Maduro has long passed.— Laura Rozen (@lrozen) February 7, 2019
Meanwhile, the trucks loaded with US “humanitarian aid” intended for Guaido and his supporters have arrived at Cucuta, on the Colombia-Venezuela border. The Venezuelan military, which remains loyal to Maduro’s government, has blockaded the bridge on the other side, however.
Trucks of humanitarian aid from @USAID are arriving at the border in #Colombia, including food, medical supplies, hygiene kits, and nutritional products intended for the people of #Venezuela. #EstamosUnidosVEpic.twitter.com/9bKBv9bALS— Mark Green (@USAIDMarkGreen) February 7, 2019
Abrams said on Thursday that the US will not “force” the crossing of the convoy with aid. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, however, demanded on Wednesday that Maduro “must LET THE AID REACH THE STARVING PEOPLE” of Venezuela.
The Venezuelan people desperately need humanitarian aid. The U.S. & other countries are trying to help, but #Venezuela’s military under Maduro's orders is blocking aid with trucks and shipping tankers. The Maduro regime must LET THE AID REACH THE STARVING PEOPLE. #EstamosUnidosVEpic.twitter.com/L4ysYJaM6H— Secretary Pompeo (@SecPompeo) February 6, 2019
Listing all the reasons for US meddling in a Fox News interview, Pompeo said Iran and Hezbollah were present in Venezuela, the government in Caracas was a puppet of Cuba, and the US had an "obligation" to defend “American values” by supporting “duly elected” Guaido.Also on rt.com Pompeo: America ‘obligated’ to fight ‘Hezbollah’ in Venezuela to save ‘duly elected’ Guaido
President Maduro, however, dismissed US aid as a “cheap show,” according to an interview published on Thursday in the Mexican newspaper La Jornada. He has accused the US of interfering in internal affairs of Venezuela by attempting to overthrow his legitimately elected government in favor of Guaido, who was never elected by anyone.
Honored to welcome U.S. @StateDept Special Rep for #Venezuela Elliott Abrams to @USAID. We were able to show him a firsthand look on how our #Venezuela response management team is trying to provide food and medicine during this humanitarian crisis. pic.twitter.com/FTlDh8USZT— Mark Green (@USAIDMarkGreen) February 7, 2019
The government in Caracas has reasons to be skeptical of US humanitarian aid. In addition to it being earmarked solely for Guaido and his supporters – while Maduro and those loyal to him have been placed under strict US sanctions – the US has previously used the label “humanitarian aid” to deliver weapons and equipment to anti-government guerrillas in Latin America, and Abrams personally oversaw those operations back in the 1980s.
With announcement from John Bolton that US military will help deliver humanitarian aid to Guaido & Venezuela opposition, worth recalling this history: in 1980s, CIA arranged to deliver military equipment to Contra rebels in Nicaragua on planes designated for "humanitarian aid." pic.twitter.com/8Q6a49507D— Kevin Gosztola (@kgosztola) February 3, 2019
The UN has likewise expressed skepticism over Washington’s attempt to use humanitarian aid to effect regime change in Caracas.
“Humanitarian action needs to be independent of political, military or other objectives,” UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric told reporters in New York on Wednesday. “What is important is that humanitarian aid be depoliticized and that the needs of the people should lead in terms of when and how humanitarian aid is used.”
Dujarric also called for “serious political negotiations” to resolve the crisis in Venezuela.
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