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Foreign Policy

Venezuelan Dictator Maduro Blocks Humanitarian Aid

U.S. increases its support of Venezuela's interim President Juan Guaido as Maduro digs in.

Thomas Gallatin · Feb. 25, 2019

Violence erupted over the weekend at several Venezuelan border crossings as the country’s socialist dictator, Nicolas Maduro, ordered that humanitarian food and medical aid be blocked from entering the country. One of the more dramatic incidents took place on the Simon Bolivar bridge between Colombia and Venezuela, where Maduro-backed troops fired tear gas and rubber bullets into a crowd of protesting Venezuelans and set several aid trucks on fire. Thus far the violence has claimed the lives of two Venezuelans, with 29 others suffering bullet wounds and a total of 285 people injured.

Reacting to the violence, interim President Juan Guaido, who has been recognized by the U.S. and at least 50 other democratic nations as Venezuela’s legitimate leader, stated, “Today’s events force me to make a decision: to formally propose to the international community that we must have all options open to secure the freedom of our country that is fighting and will continue to fight. Hope was born not to die, Venezuela!”

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo expressed his disgust with Maduro’s actions and reiterated America’s commitment to stand with the people of Venezuela: “We denounce Maduro’s refusal to let humanitarian assistance reach Venezuela. What kind of a sick tyrant stops food from getting to hungry people? The images of burning trucks filled with aid are sickening.” He added, “While Guaido leads the effort to get the aid to the people, Maduro sends armed gangs to attack innocent civilians.”

Vice President Mike Pence is scheduled to meet today with Guiado and the regional Lima Group of nations to offer further support and help decide what actions should be taken to increase the pressure on Maduro to step down. President Donald Trump has not ruled out military intervention, although it appears that the immediate response will be increased sanctions.

What is truly interesting — and almost comical if the situation weren’t so dire — is the attempt of leftists such as Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders to distance themselves and their socialist ideology from the socialist-created disaster that is Venezuela. On Saturday, Sanders, who has long praised the socialist takeover of Venezuela, stated, “The people of Venezuela are enduring a serious humanitarian crisis. The Maduro government must put the needs of its people first, allow humanitarian aid into the country, and refrain from violence against protesters.” There would have been no need for the once-wealthy Venezuela to need humanitarian aid today had it not embraced the economy- and freedom-destroying ideology of socialism, but Sanders can’t admit that fact.

For the sake of the Venezuelan people, we hope for an end to the Maduro dictatorship and the socialism that precipitated his rise to power in the first place.

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