“The Trump administration seems to have weaponized humanitarian assistance,” said Larry Sampler, a former career employee at the U.S. Agency for International Development. “We used to be able to say we’re not choosing sides, that all we’re doing is alleviating human suffering. We’ve lost that now.”
Venezuela has been a particularly blatant example, aid officials say.
“This whole idea that in Venezuela aid was going to be part of a political change process — it’s rare to see it that overt,” said Joel Charny of the Norwegian Refugee Council, which has not yet received U.S. funding for work inside Venezuela. “It’s just not a good way to do aid. If you’re really concerned about the welfare of the people of Venezuela you find the ways that are available to get the maximum amount of assistance to those people.”