Red Cross Granted Access to Deliver Aid in Venezuela
CARACAS, Venezuela — The International Federation of the Red Cross said Friday it had received permission from the Venezuelan government and the opposition to start an aid campaign in the country.
The announcement amounted to the first tacit acknowledgment by the government of President Nicolás Maduro that Venezuelans are suffering from lack of food and other basics as the economy hurtles toward collapse.
The Red Cross said a waiver granted by Mr. Maduro would allow it to begin delivery of medical supplies as soon as next week.
As Venezuela’s economic travails have accelerated over the past few months, both Mr. Maduro and the opposition leader, Juan Guaidó, have attempted to control supplies of aid for political advantage.
Access and distribution of basic supplies have become one of the main battlegrounds in the political struggle engulfing the country since Mr. Guaidó proclaimed himself president with support of the United States and about 50 other countries in late January.
Mr. Maduro has used food distribution and access to medical care as tools to ensure his support among the needy population. He has also repeatedly said that Venezuela did not require any help, and blocked attempts by the opposition and the United States to bring in humanitarian supplies in past months. Mr. Maduro’s vice president, Delcy Rodriguez, even called the aid “cancerous.”
The Red Cross said its relief in Venezuela will not be related to any political parties.
To maintain its impartiality, Red Cross said supplies will be delivered directly to the eight hospitals the organization owns in Venezuela, bypassing the government’s distribution networks.