Maduro dictatorship blocks US aid to starving Venezuelans
I had planned to write about the strikingly impressive strategy of the U.S. and its allies to send large shipments of aid to starving Venezuelans instead of Marines, all in a bid to persuade Venezuela's military to finally come over to support President Juan Guaidó and effectively boot the detested socialist dictatorship. The idea was to get the Venezuelan military to allow U.S. and other neighborly aid shipments through to help the starving people, which would in fact require defying the Maduro dictatorship.
We have an answer, at least for the moment: they aren't.
Here's a report from AFP:
Venezuelan military officers blocked a bridge on the border with Colombia ahead of an anticipated humanitarian aid shipment, as opposition leader Juan Guaido stepped up his challenge to President Nicolas Maduro's authority.
Earlier Tuesday the opposition-dominated National Assembly had warned the armed forces, which make up much of Maduro's power base, not to cross a 'red line' by blocking aid.
Guaido, who proclaimed himself acting president on January 23 – sparking an international crisis – claims that up to 300,000 people face death if the aid is not delivered.
'You know there's a red line, you know well there's a limit, you know that medicines, food and medical supplies are that limit,' lawmaker Miguel Pizarro said in a message to the military.
Maduro, though, said humanitarian aid would be the forerunner of a US-led invasion, insisting that 'no one will enter, not one invading soldier.'
Venezuelan military officers used a tanker truck and huge shipping container to block access to the Tienditas bridge, which links Cucuta, Colombia to Urena, Venezuela.
See it on Twitter:
The Bolivarian National Guard have blocked the Puente Binacional Tienditas bridge between Venezuela and Colombia. This is the bridge that Colombia planned to send aid into Venezuela over. A Water Tank has been placed across the bridge #Venezuela #Colombia pic.twitter.com/lpV9MVZlCO— CNW (@ConflictsW) February 5, 2019
The dictatorship's military leadership has actually blockaded entry of aid – of which the U.S. is sending a gargantuan shipload, with other nations pitching in as well. Canada, for instance, has pledged $53 million. It's strange stuff, given that many dictatorships keep themselves afloat through the vehicle of aid. Maduro sees a threat to his own power and has justified his disgusting move by claiming that Venezuela is not a "country of beggars," a false statement if there ever was one, given the presence of Venezuelan beggars in every large city of Latin America. It's fine with Maduro that it's a nation of starvers.
Venezuelans on average have lost an average of 24 pounds a year per person, and the poverty rate under this socialism has soared to 90%. The poor who are protesting Maduro in Venezuela's cities are largely motivated by hunger. At least 3 million Venezuelans have fled for their lives, with many estimates much higher Yet, in its socialism, the Venezuelan regime make a big virtue-signaling claim to be all in for providing for the poor at the expense of the "rich." What a hollow claim that is as aid is turned away. It shows one thing about socialism, and one thing alone: That socialism is, and always has been, all about retaining power.
Now we see the first move – crude and hamfisted, with bridges blocked by tankers. Sounds like a regime doing its darnedest to hold together. Maduro can claim that his military has obeyed him by blocking the aid, but other news reports tell a different story - that soldiers are deserting him in droves. This stunt may not be the last we hear of this. War crimes or human rights charges are now a distinct possibility for Venezuela's military loyalists once the regime falls. And a story like this is a propaganda victory for the U.S. and its allies of the most significant sort, making Maduro's defenders appear to be even more indifferent to the plight of the poor than they already are. Where's Ilhan Omar on this one? Where's Vladimir Putin? Funny how they get silent on stuff like this.
The pressure is still on, and soldiers are still deserting. If this doesn't work, the Venezuelans and their allies in the West are going to try something else.