USAID Chief’s Visit to Colombo‐Venezuelan Border Raises Spectre of Interference

The organization has a long history of funding opposition groups in the Caribbean nation.

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One of many “Gringo, Respect” murals in Caracas. (Archive)
One of many “Gringo, Respect” murals in Caracas. (Archive)
By Cira Pascual Marquina
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Caracas, July 17, 2018 (venezuelanalysis.com) – The head of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), Mark Green, visited the Colombian frontier city of Cucuta Monday, pledging six million US dollars of support for organizations dealing with Venezuelans who cross the border.

The move fits a pattern of US interference in the region that has often relied on this governmental agency. USAID’s mandate is to provide “foreign aid” and “development assistance,” but its activity has often evidenced directly political or even subversive motives related to reasserting US dominance in the region.

From Cucuta, Trump’s USAID chief made declarations regarding what he calls a “man-made humanitarian crisis [in Venezuela],” which, he claims, adversely affects the whole region.

Venezuelans “are fleeing hunger, they are fleeing a lack of medicine, and a lack of opportunity,” Green said, adding, “they are fleeing a dysfunctional, despotic regime.”

His presence on the border follows a recent visit from a EU delegation to the same region that made declarations in a similar tone.

Green has also held previous meetings directly with Venezuela’s right wing political leaders, including a recent encounter in Lima, Peru, during the Summit of the Americas.

Numerous right wing Venezuelan politicians have openly called for a humanitarian intervention in the country in recent months. Government sources, however, have accused US-led international agencies of promoting humanitarian support as a smokescreen for direct political interference aimed at undermining or even overthrowing the democratically elected Bolivarian government.

During the past two decades, USAID's activities in Venezuela have been baldly political. Following the 2002 thwarted coup attempt, the US government agency established the Office of Transitional Initiatives which focused on “leadership training” for opposition groups.

In 2008, USAID gave four million US dollars to 68 opposition programs in Venezuela, according to a book by Eva Golinger and Jean‐Guy Allard published the following year. The book also described USAID’s hypocritical role in “promoting democracy” in an already democratic Latin American context to the tune of almost half a billion dollars yearly.

Green’s recent pledge builds on an ongoing course of action by the US government in the border region. In April, the US government pledged US $16 million to support agencies dealing with Venezuelan refugees in Brazil and Colombia, supplementing the US $2.5 million earlier earmarked for these groups.

The mass media have often exaggerated the scale of the Venezuelan exodus by presenting images of shoppers who cross the border as refugees and overlooking the degree to which such cross‐border movement routinely happens within Colombo‐Venezuelan families.

Likewise, while the mass media hypes the migration generated by Venezuela's current economic crisis, it has long downplayed the profound humanitarian crisis produced by the more than 50‐year‐long war in Colombia that sent upwards of four million Colombians to Venezuela.

In Latin America, as in South Asia, where USAID became involved in drug trafficking, the organization has had a dark trajectory, including a widely known multimillion-dollar program, disguised as humanitarian aid, aimed at inciting rebellion in Cuba.

In 2014, Bolivian President Evo Morales had to expel the organization from his country for conspiring against the Bolivian people and their government.