Humanitarian Aid Shipments Set To Enter Venezuela As Political Impasse Continues; Violence Erupts At Border

The Atlantic: When Humanitarian Aid Is Used as a Weapon to Bring Down Regimes
“…Ostensibly aimed at alleviating Venezuela’s spiraling crises of hunger, health, and security, the humanitarian aid put forward by the United States also serves another purpose. Venezuelan opposition leaders here and the U.S. officials offering up much-needed aid posit that the mission could induce military officers to turn away from their government. Aid groups on the ground worry, however, that a political operation thinly padded with humanitarian objectives could send a precarious situation down an even worse path — disastrous American efforts to intervene in Latin America from decades past serve as a reminder of how badly things can go…” (Baddour, 2/21).

New York Times: As Venezuela’s Politicians Fight Over Aid, Patients Die Without It
“…The arrival of American donations of food and medical supplies to the Colombian border with Venezuela appeared to be a lifeline for [dozen of patients] in critical condition or with serious chronic diseases interviewed by the New York Times last week. But the delivery of aid has become the epicenter of an escalating political confrontation between President Nicolás Maduro of Venezuela and the country’s opposition, and the impasse has kept the supplies stuck in a converted customs warehouse in the Colombian border town of Cúcuta — and out of Venezuela — for nearly two weeks. … Mr. Maduro has denied there is a humanitarian crisis in Venezuela and said Monday the country can export medication. He called American aid a ‘Trojan horse’ aimed at overthrowing his government and blocked a bridge between Venezuela and Cúcuta with barricades and soldiers…” (Kurmanaev et al., 2/22).

Washington Post: Two dead after Venezuelan soldiers open fire on opposition supporters
“Venezuelan soldiers opened fire on a group of civilians attempting to keep open a segment of the southern border with Brazil for deliveries of humanitarian aid, causing multiple injuries and the first fatalities of a massive opposition operation meant to deliver international relief to this devastated South American country, according to eyewitnesses and community leaders…” (Faiola et al., 2/22).

Washington Post: Venezuela braces for possible conflict ahead of opposition’s push to deliver humanitarian aid
“At Tachira Central Hospital, ceilings are caving in, most ambulances don’t work, and antibiotics are scarce. Now harried doctors are stockpiling blood and drafting weekend medics as Venezuela braces for what the opposition is calling the ‘D-Day’ of humanitarian aid. ‘This could turn into a dangerous conflict: the armed forces versus the people,’ said Laidy Gómez, the opposition governor of Tachira, a Venezuelan state abutting Colombia. She has ordered state hospitals to prepare for casualties Saturday, when, in defiance of President Nicolás Maduro, an army of volunteers will seek to break the socialist government’s blockade of international relief…” (Faiola/Krygie, 2/21).

Additional coverage of the situation in Venezuela is available from BBC News and The New York Times.