4 Mistruths About Venezuela’s Humanitarian Aid Showdown

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from The Anti Media:

February 23 saw the latest attempt by the White House, its right-wing regional allies, and self-proclaimed “Interim President” Juan Guaido to oust the Venezuelan government of Nicolas Maduro, this time by trying to undermine Maduro’s authority and forcibly violate Venezuela’s borders under the pretext of bringing in “humanitarian aid.”

Given that not a single truck, boat or plane entered the country, and that Venezuela’s armed forces remained steadfast in their defence of the national sovereignty, it can be said that Trump’s and Guaido’s primary objectives were a failure.

They did, however, achieve some level of success in their secondary goal of further satanizing Maduro in the eyes of the world.

By provoking a series of violent confrontations along the Colombian and Brazilian borders, the Trump-backed opposition has managed to manufacture a false narrative designed to delegitimize the Maduro government and justify further foreign military intervention. This narrative has been uncritically disseminated by the international corporate media. In what follows, we debunk four lies repeated ad nauseam by the mainstream press.

1. Who burnt the aid trucks?

One of the oft-repeated lies is that Maduro ordered the burning of two large aid-laden trucks attempting to cross the bridge which connects Venezuela and Colombia in Ureña.

Mainstream media latched on to the story, stating as fact that “Two [trucks] were burnt to a cinder and two were stolen by Mr Maduro’s forces,” as The Telegraph reports.

From a different angle and timesnap, one can clearly see the burning truck carrying “aid” on the bridge, some distance away from the Bolivarian National Guard outpost. (@lubrio / Twitter)

 

The context here is crucial: as the images show, the trucks burst into fire some 50 metres away from the piquet of the Venezuelan Bolivarian National Guard (GNB) and Bolivarian National Police (PNB).

According to testimonies of the right-wing protestors as well as Colombian policemen on the other side of the bridge, the GNB and PNB used tear gas and rubber bullets, neither of which are flammable nor capable of penetrating the gas tank of a large truck. No live rounds, grenades, or flamethrowers were used by Venezuelan state security personnel. As such, the claim that the GNB or PNB set the trucks on fire is hard to fathom.

By contrast, the opposition activists were seen hurling Molotov cocktails, while standing only metres from the trucks. These reports were confirmed by on-the-spot journalists, including teleSUR reporter Madelein Garcia and others.

Moreover, Garcia reported that it was the very same opposition militants who set fire to the truck, publishing photos that appear to show demonstrators pouring gasoline on the vehicles.

“Here is the evidence that those who burnt the truck with the supposed humanitarian aid in Urena were the same guarimberos [violent protesters].”

Venezuelan Communications Minister Jorge Rodriguez, for his part, has alleged that the protesters were paid to set the trucks on fire, pointing to a video of a scuffle between opposition supporters and Venezuelan National Assembly Deputy Jose Manuel Olivares who was in charge of the “aid” operation on the Venezuela-Colombia border. Rodriguez claims the fight was sparked by a payment dispute, but did not offer further evidence to support his claim. Venezuelan media outlet Lechuguinos also interviewed unnamed sources allegedly involved in the protests who claim to have been promised up to US $4,000 for torching the truck.

While it remains impossible to determine with absolute certainty the cause of the burned trucks or the potential malintent behind it, all reports and basic logic contradict the generalised conclusion that the responsibility belongs to the Maduro administration. Likewise, we must ask the perennial question, cui bono? The answer is unambiguous: Trump, Guaido, and all those forces seeking to rationalize the violent ouster of Maduro by presenting him as a bloodthirsty dictator who is keeping desperately needed aid from his own people.

2. Is the Maduro government really blocking international humanitarian assistance?

Another of the great mistruths circulating in international media is that the Bolivarian government is blocking all international efforts to supply vital food and medicine, while The Guardian claims, “Hungry Venezuelans living nearby are wondering when they will next eat.”

The truth, rather, is that Caracas has requested and is currently receiving international humanitarian assistance, especially from multilateral bodies like the International Red Cross (IRC), the United Nations (UN) and regional healthcare organisations. The government has only blocked what these same humanitarian bodies have criticized as “politicised” aid coming from the US State Department’s notorious USAID branch, which looks to instrumentalize aid as a tool of regime change.

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