For Immediate Release
Monday, August 5, 2019
Office of Press Relations
A SPIRALING HUMANITARIAN CRISIS: While the illegitimate former Maduro regime continues to deny the scale of the crisis – as well as its role in causing it – independent international organizations report dire, irrefutable findings from inside Venezuela.
The July 2019 United Nations (U.N.) Human Rights report confirms that Nicolás Maduro and his cronies are committing gross violations of the human rights of the Venezuelan people and depriving them of their basic rights, and access to food and health.
Nearly 90 percent of hospitals in Venezuela reported shortages of medicine and inconsistent water supplies in the 2019 National Hospital Survey, which found that between November 2018 and February 2019, over 1,500 people died because of lack of supplies in hospitals.
In June 2019, the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) reported that outbreaks of infectious diseases – including previously contained diseases such as diphtheria, measles, and malaria – are spreading rapidly throughout Venezuela. According to PAHO, approximately 177,000 malaria cases were reported in Venezuela January 1 – May 25, 2019, a 10-percent increase compared to the same period in 2018.
This growing health crisis is not confined inside Venezuela’s borders. PAHO has recorded more than 1,700 measles cases across the region so far in 2019, and continues to report new cases in neighboring countries. Between May 17 and June 18, 2019, PAHO recorded nearly 130 measles cases in Venezuela, approximately 50 cases in Brazil, and an estimated 20 cases in Colombia.
The food-security situation in Venezuela is just as dire. The UN Food and Agriculture Organization’s 2019 State of Food Security and Nutrition reported that one in five Venezuelans were undernourished in 2018, more than four times as many people who were suffering from hunger in 2014.
In April 2019, the Johns Hopkins School of Public Health and Human Rights Watch jointly reported that “hunger, malnutrition, and severe shortages of food are widespread” throughout Venezuela, and pointedly concluded “Venezuelan authorities during the presidency of Nicolás Maduro have proven unable to stem the crisis, and have in fact exacerbated it through their efforts to suppress information about the scale and urgency of the problems.”
Venezuelans continue to flee their country’s regime-driven crisis in staggering numbers, and are arriving in neighboring countries in increasingly vulnerable condition. In June 2019, the UN Refugee Agency reported that more than four million Venezuelans have fled their country in recent years, including one million people since November 2018 alone, which makes Venezuelans one of the single largest displaced populations in the world.
INFRASTRUCTURE COLLAPSES WHILE THE CORRUPT AND NEGLIGENT MADURO REGIME EXPLOITS CRISIS: The Maduro regime’s corruption and mismanagement have led to the destruction of Venezuelan social services and crumbling public infrastructure, contributing to the deepening humanitarian crisis.
In July, Venezuela suffered a third national blackout since March 2019, caused by years of underinvestment and neglect of the country’s power grid. These ongoing blackouts bring already struggling communities to a standstill, undermine the ability of the few remaining functioning hospitals to provide even basic medical care, and further threaten the country’s food supply, as well as the safety and well-being of the people of Venezuela.
While the people of Venezuela suffer, Maduro and his cronies have sought ways to personally profit from this crisis. In just one example, President Nicolás Maduro and his regime orchestrated a vast corruption network that enabled them to steal hundreds of millions of dollars from a food-distribution program on which many Venezuelans depend to feed their families.
Yet, even as people die because hospitals are running out of medicine, and families across Venezuela go without water, electricity, or enough food, the illegitimate Maduro regime continues to deny the scale of the crisis and in doing so prevent the humanitarian community’s ability to operate independently at the scale necessary to address the enormous needs created by this man-made crisis.
SUPPORTING A REGIONAL RESPONSE TO THIS CRISIS: The United States is supporting our Hemispheric partners in addressing the needs of Venezuelans who have fled to the region, and stands ready to provide assistance inside Venezuela.
Interim President Juan Guaidó and the Venezuelan National Assembly have stressed the need for immediate international humanitarian assistance. In response, the United States remains ready to support independent, impartial humanitarian organizations to provide aid throughout Venezuela, as conditions and safe access to people in need allow.
The United States also continues to support the response to the Venezuelan crisis throughout Latin America and the Caribbean. Since Fiscal Year 2017, the U.S. has provided more than $256 million, including more than $213 million in humanitarian assistance and approximately $43 million in economic and development assistance. This aid reaches hundreds of thousands of people affected by this crisis with urgently needed assistance, while building neighboring countries’ long-term capacity to host Venezuelans.
The United States is providing humanitarian assistance and support for vulnerable Venezuelans in 16 countries in the region. In particular, the United States funds U.N. agencies and non-governmental organizations to provide immediate, life-saving assistance, such as food, health care, protection, and shelter, to Venezuelans and the communities that are hosting them so generously.
As we continue to ramp up humanitarian aid, the United States is also working to boost affected countries’ long-term capacity to respond to the influx of Venezuelans with economic and development funding aimed at strengthening and expanding social services, providing technical support to national migration authorities, and creating new economic opportunities in communities that are hosting Venezuelans.
Following a democratic transition, which will pave the way for a government that is open to accepting the international assistance needed to address this crisis, the U.S. Agency for International Development is ready to deploy at a moment’s notice to begin providing immediate food, medical care, and other life-saving aid to those suffering in Venezuela.
The United States also stands ready to help Venezuelans to rebuild their country after the devastation of Maduro’s man-made crisis. In addition to support for free and fair elections, the United States is prepared to assist in the long-term recovery of entire sectors of Venezuelan society, including health, agriculture, energy, and economic and democratic institutions.