All of the action in Syria has largely drawn the lens of the media away from the ongoing disaster in Venezuela. The people there are still suffering under the yoke of their dictator, Nicolas Maduro. While much of the world (including the United States) has recognized National Assembly leader Juan Guaido as interim president, Maduro remains in charge of the military and most of the power structure in that nation.
Now, however, Guaido is getting a financial shot in the arm from the United States. And it’s no small matter either. USAID has pledged to deliver $98M in aid to the Guaido administration, such as it is. (Miami Herald)
Washington on Tuesday pledged an additional $98 million in aid to Venezuela, saying the funds will be used to support civil society, human rights organizations and independent media.
The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) signed what it called a “historic bilateral agreement” with representatives of Venezuela’s Juan Guaidó administration.
Guaidó, the head of Venezuela’s congress, is recognized by the United States and more than 50 other nations as the country’s legitimate interim president. But Nicolás Maduro still holds many of the levers of power in the country.
This is a tricky situation. We clearly want to provide some help to the people of Venezuela who are severely lacking in food, potable water and basic medical supplies. But Maduro, his government and most of his associates are under heavy sanctions. We can’t just transfer money to some government account in a Venezuelan bank because Maduro would be able to immediately seize it.
The solution that was arrived upon has the money taking a more roundabout route. Rather than handing it directly over, the cash will go to a number of international aid organizations working in Venezuela under the direction of Juan Guaido. That should at least assure that most of the help will go where it’s needed.
Of course, the reality here is that this is mostly a symbolic gesture of support for Guaido. There was already nothing stopping USAID from sending money to the Red Cross, Doctors Without Borders or any of the other humanitarian aid groups working inside that country. But tying the interim president’s name to it and involving him in the process is another way of undermining the authority of Nicolas Maduro and propping up the appearance of Guaido as being the person in charge.
Will this hasten Maduro’s exit from power? Probably not. As long as he retains control of the military and the backing of Russia, China and Turkey, he can probably hang around for quite a while. But if this aid money actually makes it out onto the streets and helps alleviate the plight of Venezuela’s starving citizens, some good will have come of it.