Nicolás Maduro’s top diplomat accused U.S. counterpart, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, of “shameless cynicism” Sunday following the latter’s call to allow aid into Venezuela.
Maduro’s socialist regime rejected the call to allow food and medicine sent by Washington into the country. The regime has repeatedly denied the existence of a humanitarian crisis in the country and previously accused the United States of sending poisoned food to the country as a “chemical weapon.”
During a visit to the Colombian town of Cucutá this weekend, Pompeo once again pleaded with the Venezuelan regime to allow the safe passage of aid into the country, as it struggles with the most severe humanitarian crisis in its recent history.
“Mr. Maduro, open these bridges, open these borders. You can end this today,” Pompeo said. “I hope you will care now when you see the horror, when you see the tragedy, to change your ways and to leave your country.”
In Cucuta, I saw the assistance being provided by the Colombian Government, NGOs & U.S. partners to Venezuelans fleeing the man-made disaster while dreaming of a more prosperous, free, & stable #Venezuela. A complete return to democracy is the only way forward. #EstamosUnidosVE pic.twitter.com/eb550JRRbq
— Secretary Pompeo (@SecPompeo) April 15, 2019
“People are starving because Nicolas Maduro is denying food that is sitting here,” he later told reporters. “This is horrific. There is nothing else like this.”
Responding to the call, Maduro’s Foreign Minister Jorge Arreaza admitted that Venezuelans were experiencing an “unimaginable” level of suffering, but instead blamed it on a supposed “criminal blockade” imposed by the United States. The blockade allegedly exists in the form of economic sanctions aimed at squeezing the regime’s financial revenues and state-run industries.
“This is shameless cynicism by @. The consequences of his government’s criminal blockade against Venezuela are unimaginable,” Arreaza wrote in a message that was retweeted by Maduro’s official account. “It has generated death, suffering, and need. And with a straight face, he insists on the false humanitarian aid of the Cúcuta show.”
Es demasiado descarado el nivel de cinismo de @SecPompeo. Las consecuencias del bloqueo criminal de su gobierno contra Venezuela son incuantificables. Ha generado muerte, sufrimiento y necesidad. Y con su cara tan lavada, insiste en la falsa ayuda humanitaria del show de Cúcuta https://t.co/SLHViOer58
— Jorge Arreaza M (@jaarreaza) April 15, 2019
Pressing the Maduro regime to allow the passage of humanitarian aid has become the forefront of the Trump administration’s recent efforts in the region, with the U.S. the leading contributor of a $100 million aid package sent to Colombia back in February.
However, efforts have so far been unable to reach the thousands of Venezuelans in urgent need of humanitarian assistance, mainly because the military followed orders to block its passage into the country, even placing tankers on the Tienditas International Bridge connecting Venezuela with Colombia.
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
The request for aid originally came from Venezuela’s legitimate president, Juan Guaidó as part of efforts to alleviate the impact of the country’s humanitarian crisis. Millions of people in the country are malnourished, without electricity, and unable to access essential medical supplies.
The Maduro regime has repeatedly tried to save face by denying the existence of any crisis, caused in large part due to nearly two decades of radical socialist governance.
“Venezuela will not be made a false promise of humanitarian aid,” Maduro said in a televised address back in February. “We are motivated by work, production, and growth of our economy. We are not a country of beggars.”