The United States government, with the support of Latin American governments in countries like Brazil, Colombia, and Chile, escalated a regime change operation against Venezuela by attempting to force the delivery of “humanitarian aid.”
Opposition groups targeted three border bridges that Venezuelan government forces had no trouble defending, which was possibly the plan. The spectacle of force deployed to block what much of the world viewed as legitimate aid carried immense propaganda value.
Trucks carrying aid on the were set on fire on the Francisco de Paula Santander bridge that connects the towns of Cucuta, Colombia, and Urenas, Venezuela, gave the opposition the kind of horrifying imagery it wanted. The blazing trucks were immediately blamed on Venezuela national guard forces.
“Masked thugs, civilians killed by live rounds, and the burning of trucks carrying badly-needed food and medicine,” John Bolton, national security adviser to President Donald Trump, tweeted. “This has been Maduro’s response to peaceful efforts to help Venezuelans. Countries that still recognize Maduro should take note of what they are endorsing.”
But it was not immediately clear what happened to the trucks, and hours later, it was reported that Molotov cocktails made by the opposition were thrown at the trucks.
The Red Cross did not support this particular delivery of aid because of its political agenda, and yet someone affixed the Red Cross emblem to a truck that was later seen on fire.
“We’ve learned that there are some people not affiliated” with the missions in Colombia and Venezuela that are “wearing Red Cross emblems at Colombia-Venezuela and [the] Brazil-Venezuela border,” the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies tweeted. “We urge them to stop doing this. They might mean well, but they risk jeopardizing our neutrality, impartiality, and independence.”
Andy Rosati, a journalist with Bloomberg, reported three government buses were hijacked by masked protesters. They set a bus on fire as they attempted to break a barricade formed by soldiers in Urena.
“There were also masked men who fired rounds at demonstrators near a bridge in San Antonio, according to Rosati. “National guardsmen [fired] tear gas on the crowds at [the] same time. People are taking shelter behind trees and door entries.”
Chilean photographer Nicole Kramm was severely injured when a Venezuela tank was hijacked by two individuals. The individuals exited the tank and were welcomed by leaders of the opposition.
By the end of the day, only a few dozen members of the Venezuela armed forces defected, even though this was one of the key objectives of the opposition. There are around 230,000 people in the military in Venezuela.
But the gambit did result in the Venezuela closing off the vast majority of its border crossings. Anatoly Kurmanaev, a New York Times reporter, stated, “Even North Korea has more active border crossings.”
In January, after Elliott Abrams was appointed U.S. special envoy for Venezuela, he spoke about pushing Venezuela military officers to defy Maduro.
“Our hope is that they will be able to persuade Maduro, or they will simply disobey orders to continue the starvation of the people of Venezuela,” Abrams said.
Kevin Whitaker, the U.S. ambassador to Colombia, contended a rebellion would possibly lead to Maduro’s ouster—”an outcome that would do more than anything else to improve living conditions inside the country.”
Abrams ordered planes carrying “humanitarian aid” to shuttle weapons to the right-wing Contras in Nicaragua in the 1980s when he was working for the State Department in President Ronald Reagan’s administration.
Days before the opposition attempted to force the delivery of aid, Abrams traveled with the supplies that were transported by U.S. military aircraft from Florida to Colombia.
Around $20 million worth of aid, or nearly 200 metric tons of supplies, were transported.
More than a week before the opposition attempted to provoke the Maduro government by forcing the delivery of aid, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo shared a photograph of the Tienditas Bridge at Colombia-Venezuela border. It showed two shipping containers and a fuel tanker. Those pushing regime change suggested Maduro had purposely blocked the bridge. However, as CBC News in Canada acknowledged, the bridge has never been open.
“Would that bridge even be used to bring the aid into Venezuela from Colombia if it weren’t blocked?” CBC News asked.
‘Neutrality, Impartiality, Independence, Humanity, And Doing No Harm’
The Maduro government has allowed international support to be given to civil society organizations in Venezuela, which fight hunger and address shortages of medicine. This includes the United Nations Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF) and the Directorate-General for European Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations (ECHO), as well as the World Health Organization (WHO) through the Pan-American Health Organization (PAHO) and the United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF).
A joint statement from the Washington Office on Latin America, signed by dozens of Venezuela organizations and a handful of international groups, declared, “It is noteworthy that many of these same organizations have maintained a distance from current efforts to bring aid over the Colombia-Venezuela and Brazil-Venezuela borders. Instead, they have stressed that humanitarian responses must follow standard humanitarian and protection principles, including: neutrality, impartiality, independence, humanity, and doing no harm.”
“These groups have distinguished humanitarian aid from other activities of political, ideological or military nature, out of a concern for the wellbeing of those most deeply affected by Venezuela’s crisis. In their operations they have insisted on a strict emphasis on human rights and rejection of the use of force,” the statement added.
Over 900 tons of food and medicine were delivered last week at a Venezuela port in La Guaira. The aid came from China, Cuba, India, and Turkey. Russia also delivered 300 tons of medicine and medical supplies.
The Maduro government does not fear these countries will destabilize and advance regime change against the country.
Nonetheless, Senators Kamala Harris and Bernie Sanders, both 2020 Democratic presidential candidates, came out in support of the aid provocation.
“The people of Venezuela are enduring a serious humanitarian crisis,” Sanders stated. “The Maduro government must put the needs of its people first, allow humanitarian aid into the country, and refrain from violence against protesters.”
“The U.S. must immediately condemn Maduro’s violence against his own people. There is no excuse for this,” Harris declared. “The Venezuelan military and security forces must demonstrate restraint. Venezuelans deserve a free and fair election and a peaceful transition of power.”
Harris also pledged, if elected president, she would extend temporary protected status (TPS) to Venezuelans. “It’s the right thing to do. America must show moral leadership in this hemisphere,” seemingly ignoring how U.S. actions are partly responsible for a growing refugee crisis.
Hillary Clinton, former Democratic presidential nominee, “I urge Nicolas Maduro to allow humanitarian aid inside Venezuela’s borders peacefully. People are in need of life-saving medicines, children are subsisting on one meal a day, and a peaceful delivery of food and supplies is to the benefit of all.”
Clinton backed a coup in Honduras in 2009, when she was head of the State Department. She denied it was illegal when she ran for president in 2016, and when she published a paperback edition of her book, “Hard Choices,” the section she wrote on the coup for the hardback edition was deleted.
USAID Was Involved In The CIA-Backed Coup In Chile
In a press release, the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) announced the aid transported by the U.S. military contained food for “an estimated 2,000 people for one month.” It included medicine that could help 40,000 people, hygiene kits for 35,000 people, food kits for 5,000 people, biscuits with vitamins and minerals for 10,000 school children, and nutritional products for 10,000 malnourished children. The supplies would last anywhere from one to three months.
All of it would be distributed by the opposition, which is led by Juan Guaido, who declared himself president in January and was immediately recognized by the Trump administration.
USAID has a history of acting as a front for CIA operations. International Police Services, Inc. was a “training school for thousands of foreign policemen and part of an even larger police program that the CIA ran in cooperation with USAID,” according to “Lawless State” by Morton Halperin, Jerry Berman, Robert Borosage, and Christine Marwick.
Salvador Allende was elected president of Chile in late 1970. President Richard Nixon was furious and ordered the CIA to “make the economy scream.” USAID was involved in destabilizing the country before and after Allende’s election.
“By 1970, loans by financial institutions controlled or dominated by the United States—AID, the Export-Import Bank, the Inter-American Development Bank, the International Monetary Fund, and the World Bank—had given Chile the highest per-capita foreign debt in the world. With the knowledge and encouragement of the United States government, companies including Anaconda Copper and ITT contributed hundreds of thousands of dollars to anti-Allende candidates.”
Allende was overthrown in a CIA-backed coup on September 11, 1973, that resulted in Allende’s death and a military takeover, where General Augusto Pinochet appointed himself president.
There are over 25 million people in Venezuela, and the sanctions imposed by the Trump administration have cut the country off from the international financial world. This, more than anything, will greatly fuel a humanitarian crisis.
Oil sanctions are effectively an embargo against the country. In the 1990s, Iraq faced U.S.-backed sanctions from the United Nations on their oil exports as well as restrictions on other foreign trade. To many, it was “one of the decade’s great crimes” because the sanctions contributed to the deaths of 500,000 Iraqi children.
Trump has apparently wanted to go to war with Venezuela since 2017. “They have all that oil, and they’re right on our back door,” he once said, according to former acting FBI director Andrew McCabe.