Venezuela's Humanitarian Crisis: Aid Must Come and Maduro Must Go

SARAH BRYANT: Last Saturday, he first U.S. military aircraft carrying aid for Venezuela landed in Colombia. This assistance arrived amid an ongoing impasse as President Nicolas Maduro’s government blocks foreign humanitarian aid from entering the country.

Juan Guaidó, recognized by the United States and many other countries as Venezuela’s interim president, has announced that on February 23, the day by which a total of 250 metric tons of aid will have arrived, the aid will be brought into Venezuela by volunteers organized by the opposition.

This showdown comes at a peak of political upheaval that has intensified the humanitarian crisis in Venezuela. Since Guaidó raised his constitutional claim to power on January 11, Maduro has refused to step down. Cuba, Russia, China, and Turkey are among the countries that still support the Maduro regime, while most of the E.U. has followed the lead of the United States in recognizing Guaidó. Despite this international pressure and Guaidó’s calls for mass protests, the Venezuelan army’s loyalty to Maduro has impeded a transition of power.     

Maduro must step down and allow food and medical assistance to be delivered to the citizens of Venezuela. Over the past several years, economic mismanagement under the Maduro regime has resulted in widespread food shortages, a lack of basic medical supplies, rising violent crime, and mass migration from Venezuela to surrounding countries. Protests have been violently suppressed and political opponents imprisoned.

This crisis is an international moral imperative, and the Venezuelan people have suffered for far too long to remain victims of a repressive and illegitimate government. The time has come for Maduro and his administration to relinquish power and allow for truly democratic elections to be held in the country. But first, the aid that has been accumulating at Venezuela’s border must be allowed in to alleviate the humanitarian crisis being perpetuated by Maduro’s costly cling to power.

Jeff Cirillo