Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Thursday announced a $20 million package of humanitarian aid for Venezuela in response to a request from Juan Guaidó, recognized by the United States and several major South American nations as the acting president of the country.
“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 told a gathering of ambassadors from the Organization of American States (OAS).
Pompeo said the requested aid would be delivered to Venezuela “as soon as logistically possible.”
The United States has already pledged a total of $96 million in aid to neighboring countries that have absorbed the estimated two to three million refugees fleeing Maduro’s rule. According to the State Department, over $140 million in humanitarian aid has been provided for Venezuelan refugees since the 2017 fiscal year.
Pompeo compared the oppressive regime of Venezuelan dictator Nicolás Maduro to his mentors in Cuba and called on OAS members to join the United States in declaring Maduro’s rule “defunct.” He made a point of referring to Maduro’s presidency in the past tense.
“Maduro’s illegitimate rule was for years sustained by an influx of Cuban security and intelligence officials. They schooled Venezuela’s secret police in the dark arts of torture, repression, and citizen control. Maduro was a fine student at the Cuban academy of oppression. We call on the OAS and all its member states to act on decent democratic principles and the incontrovertible facts on the ground,” said Pompeo.
“All O.A.S. member states must align themselves with democracy and respect for the rule of law,” he urged. “The regime of former president Nicolás Maduro is illegitimate. His regime is morally bankrupt, it’s economically incompetent, and it is profoundly corrupt, and it is undemocratic to the core.”
Pompeo restated the U.S. warning against “any decision by remnant elements of the Maduro regime to use violence to suppress the peaceful democratic transition” now in progress in Venezuela.
“We call on appropriate Venezuelan authorities to immediately implement the critical economic and political reforms necessary to end the hyperinflation, supply shortages, and corruption at the heart of this crisis,” the State Department said on Thursday.
“The United States stands with the people of Venezuela and the communities throughout the region that have generously taken in their neighbors during this time of crisis,” the State Department declared. “We commend the contributions of regional governments and all international donors, and encourage additional contributions from the international community to meet growing needs in Venezuela and the region.”