Bombshell revelation suggests there’s nothing humanitarian about US ‘aid’ to Venezuela

Trump, left; Maduro, right.

On 6 February, US secretary of state Mike Pompeo urged Venezuelan president Nicolás Maduro to open the country’s borders to US “humanitarian aid”. The request came after Venezuelan troops blockaded a bridge on the country’s border with Colombia:

But after decades of US interference, years of economic sanctions, and an ongoing coup attempt in the country, can Pompeo’s offer of “humanitarian aid” really be trusted?

Using “humanitarian aid” to smuggle arms

The mainstream media has predictably portrayed Washington’s offer of “aid” as noble and well-intentioned. Meanwhile, it paints Maduro as a stubborn tyrant, starving his country of vital resources.

Read on...

CNBC described Maduro’s actions as a “dramatic attempt to prevent a delivery of humanitarian aid”. The Independent reported matter-of-factly that Maduro closed the border “to stop humanitarian aid entering”. Other outlets like the Guardian failed to mention that “humanitarian aid” would hardly scratch the surface of the crippling effects US sanctions are already having on the country.

But most importantly, the media comprehensively failed to mention that the US has previously used “humanitarian aid” programmes to covertly attack left-wing governments in Latin America. And none other than Elliott Abrams, recently appointed Washington’s special envoy for Venezuela, was at the centre of it all.


Nicaragua’s history follows a typical pattern of US intervention in Latin America. After toppling a US-friendly dictatorship in 1979, Nicaragua’s Sandinista government implemented a set of social and economic reforms aimed at wealth distribution. Finding these reforms unacceptable in its ‘backyard’, Washington waged brutal economic and covert warfare on Nicaragua throughout the 1980s. And this campaign was, at times, hidden behind “humanitarian aid” programs.

By the late 1970s, the Sandinistas were overwhelming the Nicaraguan dictatorship’s National Guard. At this point, in the words of Noam Chomsky, the Jimmy Carter administration “flew Guard commanders [later renamed contras] out of the country in planes with Red Cross markings (a war crime)”.

During the mid-1980s, US Congress issued a law allowing humanitarian aid to be provided only to Nicaragua’s contras.

But in 1987, as the Los Angeles Times reported:

Reagan Administration aides deliberately used a 1986 program of “humanitarian aid”… to help support the secret effort to deliver military aid to the contras.

The article continued by linking this to Abrams, Washington’s current special envoy to Venezuela:

Officials said that all significant decisions were made by a “Restricted Inter-Agency Group,” consisting of North, Assistant Secretary of State Elliott Abrams and Alan D. Fiers, chief of the CIA’s Central America Task Force.

Another New York Times sourced within Chomsky’s The Culture of Terrorism detailed:

The official who headed the United States humanitarian aid program for the rebels in Nicaragua said today that he twice ordered his planes to shuttle weapons for the contras in Central America at the direction of Elliott Abrams.

Abrams, therefore, was a key figure in exploiting “humanitarian aid” programmes to wage covert warfare. And after a lifetime “crushing democracy” across Latin America, his reported advice to Maduro “to leave power… the sooner the better” carries an ominous tone.

“Not one invading soldier”

On 6 February, the BBC reported Maduro saying: “No-one will enter, not one invading soldier”.

Contrary to most media coverage, Maduro’s rejection of US “humanitarian aid” seems altogether rational. Quite predictably, Washington’s record of helping citizens while agitating for their government’s removal is shameful. And while the US continues to punish ordinary Venezuelans with crippling economic sanctions, there’s no reason to believe anything has changed.

Featured image via President of Russia and Wikimedia/Congreso de la República del Perú

Get involved

  • Join the Venezuela Solidarity Campaign.
  • Message your MP to ask them to condemn Trump’s actions.
  • Support Witness for Peace in its campaigns for peace and social justice in Latin America. You can also travel on one its many delegations to the region.

We need your help to keep speaking the truth

Every story that you have come to us with; each injustice you have asked us to investigate; every campaign we have fought; each of your unheard voices we amplified; we do this for you. We are making a difference on your behalf.

Our fight is your fight. You’ve supported our collective struggle every time you gave us a like; and every time you shared our work across social media. Now we need you to support us with a monthly donation.

We have published nearly 2,000 articles and over 50 films in 2021. And we want to do this and more in 2022 but we don’t have enough money to go on at this pace. So, if you value our work and want us to continue then please join us and be part of The Canary family.

In return, you get:

* Advert free reading experience
* Quarterly group video call with the Editor-in-Chief
* Behind the scenes monthly e-newsletter
* 20% discount in our shop

Almost all of our spending goes to the people who make The Canary’s content. So your contribution directly supports our writers and enables us to continue to do what we do: speaking truth, powered by you. We have weathered many attempts to shut us down and silence our vital opposition to an increasingly fascist government and right-wing mainstream media.

With your help we can continue:

* Holding political and state power to account
* Advocating for the people the system marginalises
* Being a media outlet that upholds the highest standards
* Campaigning on the issues others won’t
* Putting your lives central to everything we do

We are a drop of truth in an ocean of deceit. But we can’t do this without your support. So please, can you help us continue the fight?

The Canary Support us