Deal reached with Red Cross to send aid into Venezuela | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, April 12, 2019 / LAST MODIFIED: 04:14 AM, April 12, 2019

Deal reached with Red Cross to send aid into Venezuela

Says Maduro; Pence urges UN to recognize Guaido

Embattled Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro announced an agreement Wednesday with the International Committee of the Red Cross to bring humanitarian aid into a once-rich country now enduring acute shortages of food, medicine and such basics as soap and toilet paper.

As the economy of the oil-rich nation implodes, Maduro is locked in a power struggle with the increasingly popular leader of the opposition, national assembly speaker Juan Guaido.

In an about-face, Maduro said on national TV and radio that his government and the Red Cross had agreed “to work together with UN agencies to bring into Venezuela all the humanitarian aid that can be brought.”

Maduro denies that Venezuela is suffering from a humanitarian crisis and blames US sanctions for its economic woes.

Guaido is now recognized as Venezuela’s legitimate interim president by more than 50 countries, led by the US. He blames government incompetence and corruption for his country’s crisis.

In January, Guaido tried to spearhead a drive to bring in donated food and medicine from Colombia, Brazil and the island of Curacao but the effort failed as the army, which is loyal to Maduro, blocked shipments at the border.

Maduro argued that letting in such assistance, much of it provided by the US, would be the first step towards a US intervention.

A quarter of Venezuela’s 30 million people are in urgent need of humanitarian aid, an internal UN report said last month. UN estimates say 3.7 million Venezuelans are malnourished and 22 percent of children younger than age five suffer from chronic malnourishment.

The US increased pressure on Maduro Wednesday as Vice President Mike Pence asked the United Nations to recognize Guaido as the legitimate leader of Venezuela, telling the Security Council: “Nicolas Maduro must go.”

Washington will present a draft UN resolution aimed at recognizing the opposition leader, revoking the credentials of Maduro’s UN envoy and appointing Guaido’s representative as the ambassador to the world body, Pence told the council.

Maduro shot back by saying in a televised speech that he had seen Pence “making a fool of himself in the United Nations Security Council” with his appeal.

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