The United States remains deeply concerned over the dire humanitarian conditions of the Venezuelan people brought about by the authoritarian regime of Nicolas Maduro. These hardships include lack of access to affordable food and vital medicine, medical supplies, malnutrition, and a rise in malaria cases, among other harsh realities.
According to press reports, those of limited means are being hit hard by the economic situation in Venezuela. Families are going hungry, and reports indicate child mortality rates have increased in the past years. Infant formula has become increasingly scarce or unaffordable. In addition, some children choose to take their chances living on the streets rather than remain hungry at home.
All of this in a country that has the largest proven oil reserves in the world. But years of economic mismanagement and theft by the ruling Maduro elite of the country’s wealth has led to the country’s inability to reap the benefits of substantial oil reserves. A 2016 survey by three Venezuelan universities found that nine out of 10 households had become “food insecure” in Venezuela.
The United States stands ready to provide emergency assistance, including food and nutrition commodities, to affected populations. "These provisions," said State Department spokesperson Heather Nauert, "could be made available immediately, if only the government of Venezuela would accept international humanitarian assistance.
"We repeat our call on the Maduro regime to stop denying the needs of its people and to allow aid from the international community to reach them," said Ms. Nauert.
U.S. sanctions do not prohibit Americans from providing food, medicine, and other humanitarian assistance to the Venezuelan people. Ms. Nauert stressed that "U.S. sanctions are not directed at the people of Venezuela. Nor need they remain "permanent."
"Our sanctions can be adjusted for those who support Venezuela’s return to a democratic and constitutional path," explained Ms. Nauert. But without changes forthcoming from the Maduro regime, "additional measures remain under active consideration," warned spokesperson Nauert.
In the meantime, it is incumbent on the Venezuelan government to immediately permit the inflow of humanitarian assistance to its people.