Sat, Feb 16, 2019 - Page 7 News List

Nations pledge US$100m in aid for Venezuelans

SURROUNDED:An official said that the money would go directly to aid collection centers set up on Venezuela’s borders with Colombia, Brazil and the country of Curacao

AFP, CARACAS

A Venezuelan man sleeps on a soccer field on the outskirts of Cucuta, Colombia, on the border with Venezuela on Thursday.

Photo: Reuters

Twenty-five countries have pledged US$100 million in aid to Venezuela, US National Security Advisor John Bolton said on Thursday as the Venezuelan Supreme Court took aim at oil executives appointed by the opposition.

Venezuela is plagued by hyperinflation and major shortages of basic goods, and Venezuelan National Assembly President Juan Guaido and Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro are vying for control of the country.

The US is among more than 50 countries that have recognized Guaido as interim president, but Maduro — backed by the military, as well as Russia, China and dozens of other states — has so far refused to relinquish his office.

Bolton made the announcement on the aid pledged to Venezuela following an Organization of American States (OAS) conference on assisting the country.

“Today, 25 countries, united at the OAS-hosted Conference on Humanitarian Assistance in Support of Venezuela pledged US$100 million in humanitarian assistance,” Bolton tweeted.

David Smolanksy, coordinator of an OAS working group on migration and refugees from Venezuela, said that the money would go directly to aid collection centers set up on the borders with Colombia and Brazil, and in Curacao, a Caribbean constituent country of the Netherlands.

At the opening of the conference in Washington, Guaido-appointed charge d’affaires of the government of Venezuela to the US Carlos Vecchio said that the priority is to get aid into Venezuela on Saturday next week — a month after Guaido declared himself interim president.

Guaido and Maduro have been locked in a battle over allowing aid into the country and on Thursday the military reinforced a blockade at the border with Colombia, where Guaido has vowed to bring in desperately-needed goods.

Agene France-Presse journalists said that they saw several new freight containers blocking the road that connects the town of Urena in Venezuela to Cucuta in Colombia, where tonnes of US aid have been piling up for a week.

Venezuela is enduring the biggest economic crisis in its modern history, with hyperinflation predicted to hit 10 million percent this year, according to the IMF.

On Wednesday, the opposition-controlled National Assembly appointed executives to form new boards for Venezuelan state oil firm PDVSA and its US-based affiliate Citgo Petroleum Corp.

The Supreme Court took aim at the move the following day, ordering that the new appointees face criminal prosecution.

The court — which is packed with Maduro loyalists — ruled that the executives were named by a legislature whose decisions are “null” and that the appointees should face prosecution for crimes including “usurpation,” “corruption,” “organized crime” and “terrorism.”

The Supreme Court decision set in motion the process of extraditing the accused, most of who are in the US, and freezing their accounts.

Guaido celebrated the appointments as a “step forward in the reconstruction of PDVSA,” but Maduro warned that those accepting “illegal” appointments would face justice.

A company executive said that nothing has changed at PDVSA.

“The oil company is operating as it always does and we are aware of the imperialist attacks to which we are being submitted,” PDVSA director for overseas operations Yurbis Gomez said.

The US, which is leading the push to topple Maduro, has sanctioned key government financial assets, including Citgo, and US President Donald Trump has refused to rule out military action against Maduro.

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