By Theresa Whitfield
The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies announced on Friday that it has been granted access to provide humanitarian aid to Venezuela beginning mid-April.
A majority of the citizens of Venezuela find themselves in desperate need with nowhere to turn. This announcement marks a hopeful turning point for the people pleading for relief from the dire crisis that has overtaken their country.
The process for Red Cross to deliver aid has been a lengthy one; Francesco Rocca, president of the organization, said that it was on account of the legalities they had to go through with “government institutions, and social, humanitarian, and political organizations.”
Rocca also said that the organization will accept aid from other countries and donors as long as they meet the Red Cross’ standards for impartiality and neutrality, reported CNN.
For a long time, President Nicolas Maduro refused to acknowledge that this crisis was happening in the country. He did this despite the high increase of malnutrition and infant mortality rates due to food shortage, the resurgence of eradicated diseases, high unemployment and crime rates, and the thousands of fleeing citizens. Signing the diplomatic waiver that allowed the aid was the first “tacit acknowledgement” of the crisis he and his government have made, according to the New York Times.
While Maduro officially granted Red Cross access, Juan Guaidó, President of the Venezuelan National Assembly and opposition leader to Maduro, claimed this as a victory and called out Maduro over Twitter.
“It should be noted that the origin of the humanitarian emergency was not an earthquake, hurricane or war.” Guaidó tweeted in response to an announcement from Red Cross. “It was corruption, incapacity, dismantling the rule of law and ultimately the installation of a dictatorship.”
Red Cross met with both Maduro and Guaidó before being earning permission.
Guaidó has been working tirelessly to bring basic necessities to his people. In February, he opened three aid depots on Venezuela’s borders in Columbia, Brazil, and Curacao. So far, these depots have collected $100 million worth of supplies donated by many allies, including the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), according to the New York Times.
In the midst of the high political tensions between Maduro and Guaidó, Red Cross is taking the proper precautions to remain strictly neutral. Medical supplies, such as surgical kits and other basic medication, will only be delivered to the eight hospitals in Venezuela that the organization owns in order to bypass the government’s distribution networks, reported the New York Times.
Venezuelan students at Catholic University see this as a positive change for their suffering friends and family members in Venezuela.
“People my family knows are literally eating garbage,” said Chris Perez. “They don’t have food and are getting scammed by the government, and there’s nothing they can do. Having the opportunity to live another day is huge, it doesn’t matter where the help comes from.”
Perez also shared that while most of his family has been lucky enough to leave, many people are not as lucky. Those that can are fleeing to nearby countries, such as Colombia.
Colombian student Lizetthe Moreno remarked that while Colombia wants to do anything they can to help the Venezuelans pouring into their country, they barely have enough resources to help themselves.
“Granting humanitarian aid to Venezuela is extremely important. This help would be incredibly significant to all the citizens, especially those who don’t have enough money or other resources to flee.”
The people of Venezuela have been in desperate need since the early 2000’s, during the presidency of Hugo Chavez, and the pending aid from Red Cross is the first hopeful sign of an end to their struggles.