The United States has tacitly hinted that it could impose fresh sanctions against Venezuela in response to the ongoing "humanitarian crisis," prompting an immediate backlash from the United Nations and ALBA nations.
The U.S. State Department issued an official statement on Friday in which it said it remained "deeply concerned that the Venezuelan people are experiencing dire humanitarian conditions, including lack of access to affordable food and vital medicine, medical supplies, malnutrition, and a rise in malaria cases, among other harsh realities."
The statement reiterated earlier calls for President Nicolas Maduro to "stop denying the needs of its people and to allow aid from the international community to reach them."
"U.S. sanctions are not directed at the people of Venezuela," the statement, posted on Twitter, continued. "Sanctions need not be permanent. Our sanctions can be adjusted for those who support Venezuela’s return to a democratic and constitutional path. However, additional measures remain under active consideration."
UN special rapporteur Alfred de Zayas, who recently visited Venezuela, immediately condemned the language used by the United States. The United Nations has already denied that any such crisis exists in the Latin American nation.
"I do not like exaggerations," de Zayas told teleSUR. "Humanitarian crises exist in many countries: in Africa, the Middle East. In Venezuela there are shortages, but we must know the causes of these problems. To what extent are they the result of an economic war from abroad, of sanctions, of the fall in the price of oil, of inflation?"
The term "humanitarian crisis" is being deployed by the United States in a bid to justify foreign intervention and overthrow Venezuela's constitutionally elected government, de Zayas said.
He also noted that the allegations of a humanitarian crisis were being used as a distraction tactic: "There are other problems – in Brazil, in Honduras, in Argentina – of which there is very little talk."
Cuban Chancellor Bruno Rodríguez was also quick to respond, posting on Twitter: "We reject the interventionist actions of the Organization of American States and of groups of countries for their continuous aggressions against the sovereignty, self-determination and constitutional order of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela."
Likewise, ALBA countries reiterated their "support and solidarity with the Bolivarian Revolution, led by President Nicolás Maduro, before the interventionist and unilateral actions that threaten the government and people of Venezuela.
"We condemn the illegal sanctions imposed by the United States, Canada and the European Union on Venezuela, all for political purposes, which affect the people and the enjoyment of their rights," the regional integration agency said in a statement.