The world steps up to help Venezuelans

The interim government of Venezuela invited countries alarmed by its ongoing humanitarian crisis to the Organization of American States’ (OAS) headquarters in Washington on Thursday, February 14.

Gustavo Tarre, permanent representative of Venezuela to the OAS, called the meeting the world’s valentine to Venezuela. “The conference’s sole purpose,” he said, “is to alleviate the suffering of the Venezuelan people, whether it’s on Venezuelan soil or that of any country” that has decided to help.

Elliott Abrams, the U.S. special representative to Venezuela, spoke of a U.S. pledge of $20 million in aid, with more to come. Together, the international community pledged more than $100 million to help the Venezuelan people. Delegates from Germany, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom, Canada, the United States, Argentina and Taiwan were among those committing financial help.

Animated list of donors pledging to help Venezuela (State Dept.)
(State Dept.)

Francisco Valencia of the Coalition of Organizations for the Right to Health and Life (CODEVIDA) said that 300,000 Venezuelans with serious health concerns have not been treated in two years because of the economic crisis created by Nicolás Maduro and his cronies. Five thousand people have died of HIV/AIDS, Valencia said, because they could not access medication that Maduro’s illegitimate network was “holding like gold dust,” he said.

“Human rights organizations have been denouncing this situation since 2014,” said National Assembly member Manuela Bolívar, speaking remotely via video.

On January 23, Juan Guaidó, the president of Venezuela’s National Assembly, assumed the responsibilities of interim president.

At the donors’ meeting in Washington on February 14, the Netherlands offered the Caribbean island of Curaçao as a hub for international aid going to Venezuela. Argentina has a working group ready to assist with rebuilding efforts once the crisis has lifted.

“We know today is just the beginning,” Abrams said. “With our democratic partners in the region and around the world, the United States will do all we can to support the legitimate, democratic Venezuelan government and the Venezuelan people.”