U.S. should offer humanitarian aid to Venezuela without political agenda

Venezuela is in a state of crisis.

Children are dying of hunger.

The country’s inflation rate is expected to increase by 10 million percent this year. 

Food is nearly impossible to afford. Education is an afterthought. 

And Venezuelan military forces killed at least four people at the border over the weekend.

We know the U.S. is right to condemn the actions of Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro and his administration. Under his dictatorship, murder rates are up 15 times the global average and roughly three million people have sought refuge in Colombia and Peru.

Venezuela may seem “far away” for some UB students. For others, like the hundreds of South American students on campus, it’s closer to home. 

And for the 32 million people who live there, it’s a tragedy that requires international action.

On Jan. 23, the leader of the Venezuelan legislature, Juan Guaidó, declared himself acting president. He challenged the current President Maduro, who just began his second term after being elected in what were interantionally condemned as rigged elections. 

But Maduro said Guaidó’s declaration was a ploy by the U.S. to oust him and that Venezuela’s constitution can keep him in office through the rest of his term.

Tens of thousands of Venezuelans turned out for protests because of Maduro’s incompetence toward the crisis.

The crisis is mainly the cause of fumbled economic policies, which have surged prices on simple groceries and supplies. Maduro has tried to stifle the issue by raising the minimum wage by 300 percent last month. He tried devaluing the Venezuelan Bolívar currency last year. But economists have repeatedly criticized the president and said his actions are not enough.

So far, it hasn’t worked. 

Maduro made his way toward a second term due to political censorship and repression, as well. Maduro has repeatedly stripped his people of basic human rights. 

He must go.

The U.S. is among the dozens of countries, including Canada, Great Britain and South American countries, that recognize Guaidó as interim president. After the White House released its stance on Guaidó, Maduro asked American diplomats to leave the country.

Now, the U.S. government is attempting to help Venezuelans with aid.

But we think the U.S. government’s efforts should not be tied to political operations and motivations.

History has repeatedly shown us that American intervention has not brought democracy into these countries.

These countries have rebooted old dictatorship practices, time in and time out.

We think U.S. intervention here is not worth it, especially in terms of economics.

The U.S. government is against the Maduro administration and is showing this through economic sanctions, which officials say is “cynical” given the country’s millions of dollars in aid.

Ricardo Menéndez, Venezuela’s vice president for planning, said the country lost roughly $38 billion over the last three years due to U.S. sanctions. These sanctions only add to the deaths, illnesses and poverty that Venezuelans face every day, despite any forms of aid that pale in comparison.

We also think the Trump administration should avoid playing around with the idea of using armed forces in Venezuela. President Donald Trump said “all options are open” in terms of military involvement for the crisis.

We’ve seen Trump weigh his options before such as his “national emergency” threats.

We think it’s a strong possibility he can wave the green flag and call the military to Venezuela.

Vice President Mike Pence, on Monday, announced more economic sanctions against Maduro’s supporters in Venezuela, too.

This could add to the damage Maduro already caused.

The people of Venezuela come first. Human rights abuses need to end.

Intervention, simply put, hasn’t worked in the past. We hope U.S. politicians can screw this into their heads before they make a call on what’s “right” for the millions without food, education and resources.

The editorial board can be reached at opinion@ubspectrum.com.