The first of three humanitarian aid convoys provided by the United States and other regional contributors arrived in Colombia Sunday and is ready for collection from the border town of Cúcuta, officials announced.
The shipment – paid for by the United States, Colombia, and various Venezuelan companies – began providing humanitarian aid on Sunday evening from Cúcuta to those in most desperate need. Other shipments will also be available from border towns in Brazil.
“We inform all of Venezuela that in a few hours we will be in Cúcuta, coordinating the arrival of Humanitarian Aid,” National Assembly member Jose Manuel Olivares wrote on Twitter on Sunday. “Thanks to the U.S. Aid Agency, State Department, U.S. Congress, and President Ivan Duque for making this help a reality.”
Informamos a toda Venezuela que en pocas horas estaremos en Cúcuta, coordinando la llegada de la Ayuda Humanitaria. Gracias a @USAID, @StateDept, @WhiteHouse, Congreso de USA y al presidente @ivanDuque por hacer esta ayuda una realidad.
— Jose Manuel Olivares (@joseolivaresm) February 3, 2019
“For more than three years we have fought for medicines to reach our patients,” he added. “We are very close to making it happen!”
White House National Security Advisor John Bolton also confirmed the arrival of humanitarian aid, which included tons of Ready-to-Use Supplementary Foods (RUSF) for children suffering from malnourishment.
“Answering the call of President Guaidó, the U.S. is mobilizing & transporting humanitarian aid for the people of
#Venezuela,” he wrote. “I applaud the hard work of USAID, the State Department and their partners in preparing critical supplies to move forward this weekend.”
Answering the call of President Guaido, the U.S. is mobilizing & transporting humanitarian aid for the people of #Venezuela. I applaud the hard work of USAID, the State Department and their partners in preparing critical supplies to move forward this weekend. https://t.co/JR9poraxWl
— John Bolton (@AmbJohnBolton) February 3, 2019
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced the $20 million aid package last month at the request of opposition leader Juan Guaidó, who last month assumed the position of interim president in response to Maduro’s attempts to extend his grip on power by holding a number of fraudulent elections.
“These funds are to help them cope with the severe food and medicine shortages and other dire impacts of their country’s political and economic crisis,” Pompeo said at the time.
It is not the first time that the U.S. has sent aid packages to ease the pressure of Venezuela’s humanitarian crisis, which has led to nearly three million people fleeing the country in recent years. According to the State Department, more than $140 million in humanitarian aid has been provided for Venezuelan refugees abroad since the beginning of the 2017 fiscal year.
However, Maduro has blocked previous U.S. efforts to help people within the country and has continued to deny the existence of a humanitarian crisis.
“Venezuela will not be made a false promise of humanitarian aid,” he said in a televised address on Saturday. “We are motivated by work, production, and growth of our economy. We are not a country of beggars.”