US aid for Venezuela again
What is happening in Venezuela defies imagination. In staving off aid for a nation on the brink of starvation and worse, the so-called president Nicholas Maduro, dying to stay in power at any cost, would not allow any help. Yet another wave of US aid arrived at the Colombian-Venezuelan border in the midst of Venezuela's humanitarian crisis. The US Air Force C-17 cargo planes landed in Cucuta, Colombia, according to a statement from the US Agency for International Development (USAID). The relief supplies delivered included everything from hygiene kits to nutrition products that USAID says can feed about 3,500 children. The first wave of aid arrived February 8 and included locally purchased food kits, hygiene kits, medical supplies,ready-to-use supplementary foods and high-energy biscuits. Venezuela's self-declared interim president, Juan Guaido, urged the hundreds of thousands of registered volunteers to help get aid into the country. Guaido said the "end of poverty will come, the humanitarian emergency will cease," urging that the aid be let in and "humanitarian corridors open." He said in a tweet at least 600,000 had registered as volunteers. Guaido also repeated his call directly to the armed forces to support his efforts of getting the aid in. The latest aid delivery comes one week after Guaido and Venezuela's National Assembly requested humanitarian assistance. The Venezuelan government, led by embattled President Nicolas Maduro, blocked a bridge connecting Venezuela to Colombia. Guaido identified two other collection points: the Brazil-Venezuela border and an as-yet unidentified Caribbean island. Maduro has rejected the international aid, saying, "We are not beggars." Guaido declared himself acting president on January 23, but Maduro, who was inaugurated for a second term that the United States,dozens of other countries and the Venezuelan opposition have decried as illegitimate,has neither stepped down as president nor heeded calls to hold another election. A senior administration official said the US would be willing to meet with Maduro to negotiate his exit. Maduro reportedly extended an invitation to meet with the US special envoy on Venezuela. The US State Department would not comment on the prospect of such a meeting, but Mike Pompeo said that the overture shows Maduro's "increasing understanding that the Venezuelan people are rejecting him." Speaking at the Munich Security Conference in Germany, US Vice President Mike Pence said the situation in Venezuela is a "tragedy that demands a response from the whole world." Pence added the United States was "proud" to be the first country to recognise Guaido and "to date, 52 countries, including 30 European allies, have followed America's lead." On expected lines, he said it was time for the rest of the world to recognise Guaido and to step forward.