Venezuela’s Nicolas Maduro has an offer for the U.S.: If you want to bring humanitarian aid into the country, you must lift economic sanctions first.
The autocratic leader, who blames U.S. imposed sanctions for shortages of food and medicine that existed long before, said he will not allow the delivery of humanitarian aid expected to reach Venezuelan borders. The shipments are being orchestrated by Juan Guaido, who is challenging Maduro as the legitimate head of the nation, and an international coalition including the U.S. and Canada.
“You want to help Venezuela? Then let the blockade end,” Maduro said on state TV late Monday night. “We are not beggars. You want to come humiliate Venezuela and I will not let our people be humiliated.”
The looming showdown over aid represents a “lose-lose gambit” for Maduro as he will either have to allow the goods to enter the country, bolstering Guaido, or force the military to block the delivery, which would likely lead to more blow back in the streets, Eurasia Group Analyst Risa Grais-Targow said in a note on Monday.
Maduro, who has largely allowed Guaido to roam the streets with no restrictions to take part in press conferences, speak with foreign leaders and hold daytime rallies, sent a not-so-subtle warning to the 35-year-old lawmaker seeking to unseat him: “Until when is he going to continue his virtual mandate? Until 2025 or until he ends up in jail by mandate of the Supreme Court?”