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How Trump's "armed" use of foreign aid wears off

  Red Cross volunteers bring medicine to Venezuela "title =" Red Cross volunteers bring medicine to Venezuela

Red Cross volunteers work on June 19 in a warehouse of the International Committee of the Red Cross in Caracas, Venezuela. | Carlos Becerra / Getty Images

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In Venezuela, some aid agencies are asking US officials if they can strip the US statutory mark from the aid sent to the country, three aides told POLITICO.

Venezuelan relief groups are seeking to obtain a variety of humanitarian relief supplies from the United States for severe food and drug shortages across the country to alleviate land.

But many of them do not want the US label attached to it.

Continuation of the following story.

President Donald Trump has so closely linked US humanitarian aid to his attempt to oust the Venezuelan strongman Nicolas Maduro – himself – to place goods along the country's borders – an incentive for Venezuelans to revolt. Several groups have asked US officials if they could strip the US regulatory label from Venezuela's aid, three officials told POLITICO.

Some organizations are exploring other options, such as: Whether US funding can be masked by being channeled through the United Nations or ways to diversify its sources of funding so that they can use more non-American aid to Venezuelans Various aid experts said:

The situation reflects more general concerns that Trumps An unusually politicized approach to US aid worldwide backfires, ruins America's brand and potentially endangers the lives of people from Latin America into the Palestinian territories.

The Trump administration appears to have armed humanitarian aid with weapons, "said Larry Sampler, a former employee of the US Agency for International Development. "We used to say that we do not choose one side, but only alleviate human suffering." We have lost that now. "

Venezuela was a particularly blatant example, say development aid officials.

"This whole idea that development aid in Venezuela would be part of a process of political change – that's rare to see, that's clear," said Joel Charny of the Norwegian Refugee Council, which has not yet received any US funding to work in Venezuela , "It's just not a good way to help, and if you're really concerned about the well-being of the Venezuelan people, you'll find the ways to give those people the best they can."

America's development aid decisions have never been quite unpolitical – any presidential administration, Republican or Democrat to some extent pays out aid that they hope will benefit the US image, which is part of the reason why such help is branded with phrases like "from the United States."

According to experts for development Aid and analysts have intervened to an extraordinary degree in intervening with Trump and his associates to channel funds and goods so that one side benefits from conflict – and Trump's reputation for his own republican policy is strengthened. It is an approach that may violate the international core principles that such assistance is politically neutral, especially if it is provided for humanitarian reasons.

"Bringing help to one side or the other in a conflict or political environment makes it much harder for you to get through," said Jeremy Konyndyk, Senior Policy Fellow at the Center for Global Development USAID under the Obama administration.

In the Middle East, Trump has largely ceased US assistance to Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza – including money for schools and medical care – when he unsuccessfully tried to force Palestinian leaders into peace talks with Israel. And at the insistence of US evangelicals, Vice President Mike Pence intervened personally to force USAID to accelerate tens of millions in funding for minority Christians in Iraq and Syria. It ignored US diplomats who warned that apparent preference for Christians might deepen religious tensions. The region with the Muslim majority.

In Central America, Trump recently announced that it would stop providing aid to El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala if they stopped doing so to stop the flow of migrants to the United States. It is a move that could work well with hardliners against the immigration of the GOP, but a US official warning privately could actually lead to more migrants leaving those countries.

More generally, the Trump administration is considering withdrawing money from countries that do not respect the US well, including those who vote against America in international fora like the United Nations.

A US State Department spokesman insisted that the government "provide humanitarian assistance based on needs and in accordance with well-established rules of humanitarian principles," but added that "it is also important to keep our foreign aid on track based on a number of factors. The key consideration here is that our help be reconciled with American interests. "

On January 23, Trump announced he no longer recognized Maduro as the legitimate president of Venezuela. Instead, Trump said he supports the claim of opposition leader Juan Guaido to be the "interim president" of the fighting country. Dozens of other nations have agreed to this after years of mounting disappointment over Maduro and his economically catastrophic policies.

Over the next few weeks, the US has dropped more than 200 tons of food, medicines, and other humanitarian supplies at points along the Venezuelan border to encourage Venezuelans – including military leaders – to rally against Maduro and push him out. The big day of the revolt was to be February 23, but the assault ended with bloody clashes along the border, and Maduro did not fall.

In the months that followed, Venezuelans engaged in US aid groups – even those who were involved. I have little love for Maduro – have expressed growing concern about accepting food, medicines, or other goods that make up the American brand and fear that they will become targets of Maduro supporters, say the helpers. The autocrat retains the backing of the military and the armed groups known as the Colectivos.

Local Venezuelan relief partners have told US humanitarian organizations that they are particularly worried about US branded material in border areas, as there is a danger that people returning such items back to Venezuela are at risk Assistant to POLITICO. Another humanitarian official reportedly reportedly threatened some Venezuelan helpers because of their alleged ties to the United States.

The development aid officials refused to share many details about what they heard or told about their plans, saying that they did not want to jeopardize the Venezuelan individuals or local groups working with them for help to pay. Trump officials are listening to aid group concerns over branding, humanitarian officials said, but talks are ongoing at this stage. "

" The US policy in Venezuela was precisely to demand that the aid not be politicized, which was the incessant practice of the Maduro regime, "he wrote in an e-mail to POLITICO. "The help goes to [United Socialist Party of Venezuela] members and others who are favored by the regime. That is why we continue to insist that the help goes through the church … or through other organizations that provide it more on the basis of need than politics. "

Abrams added, however, that the US mark of help – which is usually mandated under US law -" exceptions can and are made if the situation suggests. "

US So support was in Often unbranded in countries such as Pakistan and Afghanistan, as it could become a lightweight brand for militant Islamists. It is unlikely that a US-funded school built in Pakistan's tribal areas would carry a "The American People" sign because Taliban fighters would bomb them.

Venezuela's government has long been anti-American, especially under its former leader Hugo Chavez, a socialist-inspired leftist whose many acolytes are called Chavistas. One of them, Maduro, took office in 2013 after Chávez & # 39; death, and his government was charged with extraordinary corruption and economic mismanagement.

Venezuela was once one of Latin America's richest countries, but over the past decade its economy has collapsed, inflation has weakened its currency and crime has risen. According to the United Nations (19459049), one in four Venezuelans needs humanitarian aid. A study published in 2018 found that Venezuelans lost an average of 24 pounds last year and that the vast majority now live in poverty.

Maduro, politically supported by Russia and Cuba, blames the United States for the problems in Venezuela. He judged the events of February 23 as an attempt by the US to use humanitarian aid as a Trojan horse to take over Venezuela. It is a narrative that is repeated in some left quarters .

"It fits in very well with the mythology of" Chavista-Maduro "on the role of American rule," said a high-ranking US-based humanitarian group official dealing with Venezuelans.

Some US aid organizations have been working for years in Venezuela, a country with around 30 million inhabitants. But under Maduro, much of it was through local partners and often with low visibility. It is estimated that in recent years around four million Venezuelans have left the country and have led auxiliary groups to help the refugees and their host countries, such as Colombia.

Probably a positive outcome of Trump's pressure The campaign against Maduro is that in the months since the February attack, he has actually admitted that there is a serious humanitarian crisis in his country that he was not ready for was. And he finally allows extensive foreign aid.

In April, he allowed the Red Cross to launch an aid campaign for the country. The Red Cross says his efforts are politically neutral, but Maduro hopes it will strengthen his precarious position as Guaido and his embattled supporters try to borrow, saying that their pressure has forced Maduro to bow.

With the expectation that Maduro will continue to allow more international aid, aid agencies may be more likely to tackle the issue of US trade mark assistance and their political sensitivity.

"We have the experience of mixing political goals and humanitarian goals. This undoubtedly endangers the lives of humanitarians and makes vulnerable people even more vulnerable.

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