In recent times the international media, including many who promised to “resist” the dangerous commander-in-chief Donald Trump, have been awash with stories about Nicolas Maduro blocking US “humanitarian aid” reaching Venezuela. Maduro is said to have even blocked a bridge in his desperation to starve his own people (see, for example, CNN, CBC, Associated Press, BBC, NPR, ABC, Bloomberg, The Guardian). A constant flow of stories such as this have served to establish a narrative of a dictator blocking a benevolent US government from helping its desperate people. Something must be done!
Virtually unreported in the humanitarian aid story are several inconvenient truths that contradict the official US government narrative the media is so closely parroting. Firstly, the “aid” is not recognized as such at all. For shipments to qualify as aid, they must be given indiscriminately. The US “aid” appears destined only for Juan Guaidó, the US-backed self-appointed president. The Red Cross and the United Nations have refused to help the US or to recognize Trump’s shipments as aid. Indeed, the United Nations has formally condemned the US’ actions in Venezuela. For their part, the Venezuelan government has been very eager to accept genuine aid, and is currently working with the UN to distribute supplies.
The UN Human Rights Council denounced Trump’s sanctions (illegal even under OAS law), noting that they specifically target “the poor and most vulnerable classes”, calling on all member states to break them and even began discussing reparations that the US should pay to Venezuela. The sanctions have had a devastating effect on the country’s economy, reducing its oil output by 50 percent, according to the opposition’s own economics czar. Furthermore, Trump has threatened anyone breaking the sanctions with up to 30 years imprisonment. One UN special rapporteur described the sanctions as akin to a medieval siege and declared them a “crime against humanity.” Thus, much of Venezuela’s crisis is actually manufactured in Washington, though you would be extremely hard pressed to understand that from mainstream coverage.