Maduro Shuns Humanitarian Aid While Asking for Sanctions Relief

(Bloomberg) -- Venezuela’s Nicolas Maduro has an offer for the U.S.: If you want to bring humanitarian aid into the country, you must lift economic sanctions first.

The autocratic leader, who blames U.S. imposed sanctions for shortages of food and medicine that existed long before, said he will not allow the delivery of humanitarian aid expected to reach Venezuelan borders as soon as this week. The shipments are being orchestrated by Juan Guaido, who is challenging Maduro as the legitimate head of the nation, and an international coalition including the U.S. and Canada.

Maduro Shuns Humanitarian Aid While Asking for Sanctions Relief

“You want to help Venezuela? Then let the blockade end,” Maduro said on state TV late Monday night. “We are not beggars. You want to come humiliate Venezuela and I will not let our people be humiliated."

Guaido said the aid would enter at points along Venezuela’s border with Brazil and Colombia as well as from an unnamed Caribbean island. The first bundles of food and medicine are expected to be handed over later this week in the Colombian border town of Cucuta.

The looming showdown over aid represents a "lose-lose gambit" for Maduro as he will either have to allow the goods to enter the country, bolstering Guaido, or force the military to block the delivery, which would likely lead to more blow back in the streets, Eurasia Group Analyst Risa Grais-Targow said in a note on Monday.

“In the next days they will be faced with an important decision, to stay alongside someone who doesn’t protect anyone or by the side of humanity and of patients needing help,” Guaido said of the armed forces in a press conference on Monday. "The moment is now, soldiers of the nation. Ask your family what is right."

Maduro Shuns Humanitarian Aid While Asking for Sanctions Relief

Maduro, who has largely allowed Guaido to roam the streets with no restrictions to take part in press conferences, speak with foreign leaders and hold daytime rallies, sent a not-so-subtle warning to the 35-year-old lawmaker seeking to unseat him:

"Until when is he going to continue his virtual mandate? Until 2025 or until he ends up in jail by mandate of the Supreme Court?"

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