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Opinion Pieces Discuss Humanitarian Situation In Venezuela, Politicization Of Aid

NBC News: Trump’s Venezuela policy isn’t a case of right versus left. It’s a case of right versus wrong.
Brett Bruen, president at Global Situation Room, Inc.

“…[Venezuela’s Nicolas] Maduro callously refuses to acknowledge, let alone address the suffering of his people. If America allows him to stay the course, the consequences will be catastrophic. This isn’t just a political crisis. There is a humanitarian imperative to act. … The question for lawmakers should not be if, but how, we act. … So far, I give the Trump administration mixed, but passing, marks on their response to the crisis; many of the steps they have taken to pressure Maduro and the military — including the diplomatic, disaster response, and denial of funds — are the right ones. … There are, however, several areas of our Venezuela policy in which I differ with the administration. … Any one of us can disagree with Trump on some, or even most, of his policies. But, he is right that the people of Venezuela need our help now. We should continue to encourage a multilateral, multi-dimensional strategy that emphasizes aggressive diplomacy and disaster assistance. But, we cannot let partisanship or past problems prevent us from protecting those in danger, especially the hundreds of thousands of malnourished children. That would truly be an immoral legacy” (2/16).

IRIN: Why the Venezuelan opposition’s high-stakes aid gamble must pay off
Francisco Toro, founder of the Caracas Chronicles news site

“On top of longstanding concerns over chronic shortages of food and medicine reaching the country, there’s now real worry about the increasingly blatant politicization of aid, as the internationally backed opposition movement puts efforts to bring humanitarian supplies into the country at the center of its messaging strategy against the regime. … The larger problem is that when aid becomes this politicized, there’s no room left for a realistic assessment of Venezuela’s humanitarian needs. … The basic message here is that aid-as-politics turns out to be incompatible with aid-as-aid in the Venezuelan context. If [opposition leader Juan] Guaidó’s strategy pans out and delivers a knockout blow to the Maduro regime in the near future, paving the way for large-scale relief efforts under a new government, it will be hailed as a masterstroke. But if it fails and the Maduro clique manages to entrench itself in power, it could be remembered as the prelude to a catastrophe on a scale that the western hemisphere hasn’t seen in decades. What is clear is that the Venezuelan opposition — alongside powerful allies in the United States, Colombia, Brazil, and Europe — has chosen an exceptionally risky approach without a credible Plan B. For Venezuelans’ sake, we can only hope it works” (2/20).

The Conversation: Why Maduro is blocking Venezuela-bound humanitarian aid when so many people in his country need it
Morten Wendelbo, research fellow at the American University School of Public Affairs

“…Although there is no clear evidence of an ulterior motive, history does give Maduro reasons to be skeptical of U.S. intentions [in providing humanitarian aid]. … [H]umanitarian aid is rarely just about saving lives. In Venezuela, … the U.S.-supplied aid may have substantial political consequences. … The U.S. government generally considers aid and development assistance as part of their broader foreign policy. The State Department officially calls USAID an ‘important contributor to the objectives of the National Security Strategy of the United States.’ In other words, USAID’s work abroad is at least partially intended to safeguard American security and promote U.S. interests. … Even if the Trump administration has only the best of intentions, it may not be in Maduro’s interest to let the aid across any of his country’s borders. … To Maduro, it is no doubt clear that Guaidó stands to gain most from the humanitarian aid reaching Venezuelans because he can champion the aid as a success of his shadow government. … [T]he U.S., other nations, and aid organizations must take care to avoid letting their assistance get politicized while ensuring that humanitarian assistance actually reaches and benefits the thousands of Venezuelans who need it. Otherwise, these shipments could further destabilize the country, making Venezuelans in need of aid in the first place even worse off” (2/15).