Secretary of State Michael Pompeo announced that the United States is ready to provide $20 million in humanitarian assistance to support the people of Venezuela.

“These funds are to help them cope with severe food and medicine shortages and other dire impacts of their country’s political and economic crisis,” Pompeo said in a January 24 address to the Organization of American States (OAS).

Eighty percent of Venezuelan households can’t afford food, according to the Encuesta Nacional de Condiciones de Vida. And 88 percent of hospitals surveyed in early 2018 reported medicine shortages, the Encuesta Nacional de Hospitales reports. Some 3 million Venezuelans have had to flee from their country, the United Nations says.

The U.S. recognized Juan Guaidó as the interim president of Venezuela after the National Assembly nullified the 2018 election as illegitimate.

Woman collapsed on the ground being comforted (© Ariana Cubillos/AP Images)
Shoppers aided a woman who fainted while waiting in a food line outside a grocery store in Caracas in May 2016. (© Ariana Cubillos/AP Images)

“All OAS member states must align themselves with democracy and respect the rule of law. All member states who have committed to uphold the Inter-American Democratic Charter must now recognize the interim president,” Pompeo said.

Interim President Guaidó took office on January 23, after Venezuelans took to the streets to protest the corruption and mismanagement of former President Nicolás Maduro’s regime. The socialist regime’s policies have severely hurt the Venezuelan people and destroyed the economy.

The announcement of aid comes after a request for help from the Venezuelan National Assembly. “We each have a critical opportunity to help the Venezuelan people live free once again,” Pompeo said. The United States stands ready to help Venezuelans “begin the process of rebuilding their country and economy,” he said.