Mérida, July 28th 2011 (Venezuelanalysis.com) - On Wednesday the Venezuelan government contributed 50 tons in food aid to the people of Somalia currently suffering one of the worst food crises in decades. In addition to the direct shipment of “nonperishable foods, drinking water, baby food and grains,” the Venezuelan government transferred USD $5 million dollars to international efforts in the region and will soon send a team of Venezuelan technicians and agricultural experts to support Somali efforts to increase food production.
According to Minister of Justice and the Interior Tareck el Aissami, Venezuela “stands with the rest of those in the world who defend life, the living of life,” referring to the community of nations working to minimize the devastating effects of Somalia’s current humanitarian crisis.
Last Friday the United Nations called on the international community to help stave off one of the worst food crises in the horn of Africa’s history, a crisis affecting some 12 million people in the region and placing 780,000 children at risk of starvation.
Speaking on Venezolana de Television (VTV), Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez affirmed that “the least we (Venezuela) can do is help” before he approved USD $5 million dollars he said was to “purchase additional food and help soften the death and hunger produced by savage capitalism.”
From outside Venezuela’s Maiquetia International Airport, where aid was later flown to Kenya for ground transport to neighboring Somalia, El Aissami told the press that Venezuela’s contribution “ratifies our solidarity with the cause of humanity, with the life of the Somali people” and is accompanied by the “love and support” of the Venezuelan people.
Next week a team of Venezuelan agricultural technicians will fly to Somalia “to participate in a program aimed at providing technical training and increasing food production,” he added.
In response to the UN calls for immediate support from governments, organizations and individuals, the United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV) called on its entire membership to contribute one day’s salary in solidarity with the people of Somalia.
According to Rodrigo Cabezas, member of the PSUV’s National Directorate, the party has mobilized its base so that next Monday, August 1st, members across the nation “will contribute one day’s salary to the children of Somalia.” Cabezas called on “all militants of the PSUV, all friends and allies, all Venezuelans of good will, to consider making this contribution.”
Venezuela’s PSUV is currently the largest political party in the country, with an over 7,000,000 members nationwide.
Money for Life, Not for War
In closing his remarks on Wednesday, Venezuela’s El Aissami criticized the use of billions of dollars “to kill off people,” referring to the war in Libya, Iraq and Afghanistan. The minister affirmed that “thousands of lives could be saved” if the United States and its European allies “made that money available for humanitarian causes” instead of war.
As measured by costofwar.com, the total cost of the U.S. wars in Iraq and Afghanistan at the end of this month will top $790 and $440 billion dollars, respectively. Estimates place the cost paid by U.S. taxpayers for the attacks on Libya at roughly USD $9.5 million dollars per day, or $66.5 million a week.
In contrast, the U.S. last week promised $28 million in emergency aid to Somalia, funding that is said to supplement the $431 million already given in 2011.
According to the UK’s Guardian news agency, the first two months of bombings against Libya cost Britain over £100 million pounds. The British government recently offered £42 million pounds to help the people of Somalia, Kenya, and Djibouti face the devastating effects of drought and famine, slightly over the £38 million pounds it has spent per week bombing Libya since early May.
The total amount to be spent by Britain in the war against Libya is expected to reach £1 billion pounds by September this year.
According to the Miami Herald, after the 2010 earthquake that devastated Haiti, Venezuela was “the first nation to respond”, “became the first country to forgive Haiti's foreign debt”, and pledged more aid than the US, EU or World Bank at the UN Donor Conference held in New York later that year.