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11 Apr, 2019 03:49

Maduro reaches agreement with Red Cross on aid deliveries after 'extraordinary' meeting

Maduro reaches agreement with Red Cross on aid deliveries after 'extraordinary' meeting

Caracas and the Red Cross have agreed to allow UN-sponsored humanitarian aid shipments into Venezuela, which has been grappling with shortages of medicine and basic supplies amid a severe economic crisis.

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro announced on Wednesday that his government has been ironing out the details of a formal agreement with the International Committee of the Red Cross on how the aid will be distributed across Venezuela. The announcement was made after Maduro met with the president of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), Peter Maurer, in Caracas.

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Maurer sat down with Maduro on Tuesday evening as he wrapped up his five-day tour of the Latin American country, which reportedly saw the Red Cross officials gain unprecedented access to its most secretive facilities, including military-run prisons.

In the wake of what Maduro described as "an extraordinary meeting" with the Red Cross chief, he said that the agreement has been reached to "work together with the organizations of the United Nations, the UN, to bring Venezuela all the support, all the humanitarian aid that can be brought."

He stressed that it was important that the humanitarian supplies come into Venezuela with no political strings attached but with "respect to the sovereignty" of the country and "without politicization of any kind or misrepresentation."

The issue of aid shipments to Venezuela has been heavily politicized by the US-backed opposition led by Juan Guaido, recognized by many Western countries as the "interim president" of Venezuela.

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In late February, ostensible aid convoys endorsed by Washington attempted to smuggle cargo into Venezuela across the border from Colombia. The attempted passage of the convoys resulted in violence, with photos of a burning aid truck becoming a source of worldwide outrage and a highly publicized symbol of Maduro's "dictatorship." It was only the following month that the mainstream media admitted it was in fact an opposition protester who had set fire to the truck. It was also revealed by Caracas that at least some of the trucks were loaded with materials that could be used to erect barricades.

Venezuela, battling with economic turmoil fueled by rampant inflation, power blackouts and ensuing water shortages, has not been left without help since it plunged into the crisis. Maduro has noted the humanitarian assistance his country has been receiving from its long-time allies, such as China, Russia, Turkey and India, as well as the the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO).

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