Russia will send 300 tonnes of aid to Venezuela to alleviate the country’s humanitarian crisis, socialist dictator Nicolás Maduro claimed on Monday.
Maduro has for years denied the existence of a humanitarian crisis in Venezuela and recently blocked $20 million in food and medicine sent to the country by the United States.
“We receive humanitarian support every day. On Wednesday, 300 tonnes of Russian humanitarian aid will be legally delivered to the international airport of Caracas,” Maduro said on Monday, according to remarks picked up by the Russian state propaganda outlet Sputnik. The Kremlin has long provided crucial financial and military support to keep his regime in power.
Maduro has repeatedly denied the existence of a humanitarian crisis in his country, instead referring to some of the “difficulties” caused by some of his economic reforms and blaming the American “empire” for the collapse of the nation’s economy. Venezuela has for years suffered several food and medical shortages that have forced citizens to eat garbage, hunt zoo animals, and flee by the millions to neighboring Brazil and Colombia. Maduro’s regime has nonetheless insisted that it does not need international help to feed its people.
In recent weeks, the U.S. and other regional contributors have stepped up humanitarian aid efforts at the request of interim President Juan Guaidó, who legally replaced Maduro in January. Maduro has refused to leave the presidential palace and still controls the military. So far, 25 countries have pledged over $100 million in aid to Guaidó’s administration.
Last week, Maduro ordered the military to block the entry of all humanitarian aid from the U.S. and other countries opposed to his regime, placing tankers across the Tienditas International Bridge connecting Venezuela with Colombia. As a result, desperate Venezuelans must cross the border into Brazil and Colombia in order to access it.
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. #EstamosUnidosVE pic.twitter.com/L4ysYJaM6H
— Secretary Pompeo (@SecPompeo) February 6, 2019
I am at the @USAID facility in Cúcuta, Colombia. We have over 300 metric tons of food & medicine ready to deliver to the suffering people inside #Venezuela. #MaduroCrimeFamily is doing everything they can to keep this from reaching their own people. This is pure evil. pic.twitter.com/ubPdzCjDJ1
— Senator Rubio Press (@SenRubioPress) February 17, 2019
In response, Guaidó and other opposition leaders have rallied their supporters into organizing the safe delivery of the aid, mainly by signing up volunteers to take it over the border. Last week, Guaidó revealed that some of the aid, namely $1.7 million in food for malnourished children and mothers, had arrived in Venezuela, although the majority of the aid still remains undelivered.
During a speech on Monday in front of Venezuelan and Cuban exiles in Miami, President Donald Trump warned Maduro and members of his military that they will “lose everything” unless they allow the aid to enter.
“Today I have a message for every official who is keeping Maduro in place,” he declared. “You cannot hide from the choice that now confronts you. You can choose to accept President Guaidó’s offer of amnesty and live your life in peace with your country. But you must not block humanitarian aid”
“Or you can choose the second path; continuing to support Maduro,” he continued. “You will find no safe harbor, no easy exit, no way out. You will lose everything.”