The scandal surrounding the aid sent from Puerto Rico to Venezuela, in context
UN Secretary General Antionio Guterres says that humanitarian aid should never be used as a political pawn, but rather that the aid should be given out to those who would need it “…with the principles of humanity, neutrality, impartiality, and independence.” On February 7, the US territory of Puerto Rico sent a plane to Venezuela filled with supplies to assist the citizens in the dictatorially ruled South American country. Venezuela has been facing starvation epidemics, medicine shortages, and lack of daily necessities. The United States also pledged $20 million worth of aid to Venezuela, that’s in addition to 3,600 pounds of donated supplies on the plane. On March 6 there was also ship sent to Venezuela via Puerto Rico, as well, that has come under fire from Nicolas Maduro. Governor Rosselló is saying that this is a serious incident and that the United States federal government has been informed. The ship was allegedly at risk of taking fire under international waters and was carrying 200 tons of food, and a civilian crew.
Some individuals are questioning why Puerto Rico is even offering aid at all. Typically, Puerto Rico is not a player in international affairs, typically deferring to the United States since all Puerto Ricans are US citizens and the Puerto Rican is a territory of the United States. One of the claims brought up in this line of questioning is whether or not some in the United States and in Puerto Rico may be using these relief efforts as a front for intervention should an incident occur, though this has not been confirmed, nor has any event occured yet. Should a Puerto Rican (an American Citizen) be harmed in any of these relief efforts that would give the American Federal Government apparent cause to intervene and cause a major international incident.
Maduro has intercepted and allegedly destroyed aid that was intended to bring relief to the Venezuelans claiming that America was sending tainted and rotten food and that Americans were using the aid as a cover to destroy Venezuela and bring revolution. While the political opponent, Juan Guaido, mounts an internationally recognized and strong opposition movement, ready to accept aid, Maduro continues to reject aid, allowing the citizens that are trapped in Venezuela to starve and/or grow more ill everyday. Maduro claimed that the aid sent by America that is waiting on the border or Columbia could be a cover for an invasion from America and will not allow food that he claimed to be unfit to be given to the people who have previously been eating dogs and street animals. Maduro continues to reject the efforts of those wishing to distribute aid and #BarcoPuertoRico is only one piece of the ongoing struggle unfolding in Venezuela
Maduro gunships are threatening to fire on a ship sailing from #PuertoRico which is in international waters with 300 tons of food & medicine & at least 6 U.S. citizens on board. #barcopuertorico
— Marco Rubio (@marcorubio) February 23, 2019
The aid sent from Puerto Rico was not meant as a part of the United States’ overall aid. It was following reports of the aid that were previously sent to Venezuela but were blocked. The aid from Puerto Rico, as reported by the Puerto Rican Secretary of State, was meant to be secretly flown to South America and delivered in a clandestine manner to best assist a starving and sick population, however the plane did not land and the supplies never reached people. This time the boat seems to be a combination of Puerto Rican and federal efforts still being stifled and docked in Curaçao for the time being.