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Wednesday, May 9, 2018

Trump government calls for a radical change in Venezuela

Por Damian

The government of President Donald Trump called for a regime change in Venezuela for the first time, alleging that the "systematic oppression" of President Nicolás Maduro has become an "active threat" for all of Latin America. For the security of all the countries in the continent, "it is time for Maduro to leave power", told Nikki Haley, the United States ambassador to the UN, at the 48th Annual Conference on the Americas in the State Department.

Haley is the first member of the Trump government to officially ask for Maduro's exit from power. The exhortation came at a time when the US government announced plans to deliver 18.5 million dollars in additional assistance for Venezuelan refugees who have fled to border areas in Colombia.

The money, to be delivered through the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), will be allocated to school feeding programs, mobile medical services and other programs that help the Colombian government gather information to track the situation of Venezuelans and offer specific assistance to vulnerable groups, such as children who are at risk of exploitation and recruitment by criminal organizations.

"This makes it clear that our problems are not with the Venezuelan people, they are with the despots who rule the country", said Mark Green, USAID administrator to McClatchy. "On one hand, we are compassionate and we care about the suffering of the Venezuelan people, but on the other hand, we also recognize that to be truly compassionate, the best thing we can do is keep pushing the Maduro regime to change its behavior."

Haley's exhortation along with humanitarian assistance reflects a double side approach Washington seems to take to isolate the Caracas regime while helping Venezuelans flee their government.

The United States has imposed financial sanctions on President Maduro and more than 50 current and former Venezuelan high-ranking officials, has prohibited US companies from investing in Venezuelan companies and has banned transactions with the so-called Petro, a Venezuelan cryptocurrency, in the US financial system. "This is something we'll have to keep talking about out loud", Haley said. "We cannot remain silent."

In his speech to the Organization of American States (OAS) on Monday, Vice President Mike Pence asked Venezuela to suspend the "rigged" elections on May 20 and allow international assistance to arrive in the country.

"So today we say to Nicolás Maduro and his regime: The time has come to open Venezuela to international assistance, and we must do it now", said Pence. "Every day that you do not do that is another day that innocent people die of hunger, men, women and children, and millions flee their country in search of a better life".

But Maduro has so far rejected all offers of assistance, while downplaying the crisis. Maduro accuses the United States of trying to undermine his government.

Green said he is committed to calling more attention to the crisis in Venezuela and its repercussions in other countries. And it's not just a humanitarian issue for the United States. All this has repercussions, affects US allies, causes migration and damages trade.