U.S. aid to Venezuela was not aligned with humanitarian principles, audit finds

CARACAS (Reuters) -A U.S.-backed effort to send aid to Venezuela in 2019 that ended in a violent standoff on the Colombian border was not planned in alignment with humanitarian principles, according to an audit by the Washington-based aid agency involved in the operation. The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) sent aid material to the Colombian border region in February 2019 amid chronic shortages of food and medicine and rising malnutrition in Venezuela

Reuters May 01, 2021 01:11:13 IST
U.S. aid to Venezuela was not aligned with humanitarian principles, audit finds

US aid to Venezuela was not aligned with humanitarian principles audit finds

CARACAS (Reuters) -A U.S.-backed effort to send aid to Venezuela in 2019 that ended in a violent standoff on the Colombian border was not planned in alignment with humanitarian principles, according to an audit by the Washington-based aid agency involved in the operation.

The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) sent aid material to the Colombian border region in February 2019 amid chronic shortages of food and medicine and rising malnutrition in Venezuela.

The Trump administration had planned for the supplies to be carried across the Colombian border into Venezuela by allies of Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaido. But the aid convoys were blocked by troops loyal to President Nicolas Maduro - who called the operation a violation of the nation's sovereignty.

"(The) directive to pre-position humanitarian commodities was not driven by technical expertise or fully aligned with the Office of Inspector General, U.S. Agency for International Development ... principles of neutrality, independence, and being based on needs assessments," the USAID audit concluded.

The report, originally released on April 16, was first reported by the Associated Press.

The border standoff took place weeks after the Trump administration recognized Guaido as Venezuela's legitimate president and backed Guaido's creation of an interim government that was meant to advance a political transition in Venezuela.

During the aid effort, USAID leaders instructed officials to align decisions "toward reinforcing the Interim Government's credibility," the report says.

It adds that USAID's leadership directed officials to minimize funding to United Nations agencies, even though they had infrastructure in Venezuela to deliver such goods, because it believed they were sympathetic to Maduro's government.

"The Boliviarian government in February 2019 warned about the fraudulence of the supposed humanitarian aid from the US in Cucuta," tweeted Venezuelan Foreign Minister Jorge Arreaza, in reference to the Colombian border city where much of the aid was sent. "Today, @USAID itself recognizes that it was part of a political operation meant to change a government."

"It was never a humanitarian action, but rather a covert operation," wrote Information Minister Freddy Ñañez in an emailed statement. "Humanitarian aid was the excuse with which they tried to break our territorial sovereignty."

The U.S. State Department did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

"We welcome this and all reports that aim to improve the effectiveness of USAID's work, especially in challenging operating environments," a USAID spokesperson said in an emailed response to Reuters.

Of the 368 tonnes of supplies sent to the Colombia-Venezuela border region, only eight were delivered to Venezuela, with the remainder distributed in Colombia or shipped to Somalia, the report said.

Following the aid standoff, Maduro's government began progressively allowing for a greater influx of foreign aid and an expanded presence of international humanitarian groups.

(Reporting by Brian Ellsworth, additional reporting by Simon Lewis in Washington;Editing by Marguerita Choy and Aurora Ellis)

This story has not been edited by Firstpost staff and is generated by auto-feed.

Updated Date:

TAGS:

also read

China's Ximalaya, Qiniu file for U.S. IPOs
News & Analysis

China's Ximalaya, Qiniu file for U.S. IPOs

(Reuters) -Ximalaya, backed by China's Tencent Holdings, filed for an initial public offering (IPO) in the United States on Friday, cashing in on growing demand as more people tune in to podcasts while staying at home during the pandemic. China's Qiniu Ltd, a cloud-based platform-as-a-service provider backed by Alibaba Group Holding Ltd, also filed paperwork for a U.S. IPO

Donerail pushes gaming headset maker Turtle Beach to explore a sale - sources
News & Analysis

Donerail pushes gaming headset maker Turtle Beach to explore a sale - sources

By Greg Roumeliotis (Reuters) - Donerail Group, an investment firm led by former activist hedge fund Starboard Value LP executive Will Wyatt, has amassed a stake in Turtle Beach Corp and is pushing the maker of gaming headsets to explore a sale, people familiar with the matter said on Friday. The move represents a bet that Turtle Beach could attract acquisition interest from peers such as Corsair Gaming Inc and GN Store Nord A/S, as the video game market continues to benefit from people looking for entertainment options at home during the COVID-19 pandemic

Analysis: New meme stocks swing as shorts and retail investors face off again
Business

Analysis: New meme stocks swing as shorts and retail investors face off again

By John McCrank, Saqib Iqbal Ahmed and Lawrence Delevingne NEW YORK (Reuters) - Recent volatility in a handful of so-called meme stocks is putting the spotlight back on the tussle between individual investors and short sellers, months after a wild ride in GameStop captivated Wall Street’s attention. Stocks that have notched big swings this month include laser-manufacturer MicroVision Inc, a favorite on Reddit’s popular WallStreetBets forum, whose shares have risen as much as 170% since April 20 before tumbling in recent days