April 25, 2019

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Humanitarian Aid Stalls, Presenting Venezuela’s Opposition With a Test

Humanitarian Aid Stalls, Presenting Venezuela’s Opposition With a Test
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“The opposition has created immense expectations, and it’s not at all clear they have a plan for actually fulfilling them,” said David Smilde, a Venezuela analyst at the Washington Office on Latin America. “Furthermore, the opposition and the U.S. have not been clear that this aid, even if allowed in, will make a significant dent in Venezuela’s humanitarian crisis.”

Some Venezuelans have even put off buying medication, expecting that the American donations will arrive across the border soon, Mr. Smilde said.

The heightened expectations have managed to bring together what has been a fractured opposition, giving Mr. Maduro the first challenge to his rule in years. Mr. Guaidó — now recognized as Venezuela’s legitimate president by dozens of countries — has emerged as a leader. And the aid corridor has given the opposition a common project to promote.

Still, using a food shipment to challenge Mr. Maduro has concerned the same nongovernmental groups that would normally assist in such an effort. Caritas, the charitable arm of the Catholic Church, and the International Committee of the Red Cross have declined to participate, saying they must remain politically neutral.

Some diplomats and even opposition strategists have questioned the viability of organizing such a complex sea and land operation in 10 days. So far, Mr. Guaidó and his advisers have remained quiet about their plans to get the aid over the border. They have said the help would include $200 million in aid donations from friendly governments and the private sector, in addition to the American shipment.

For those on the border, a sense of urgency prevailed.

At an opposition rally on Tuesday in Ureña, spirits remained high, but protesters were becoming impatient for concrete results.

“We can’t let those containers sit there for so long,” said Linda Acosta, an Ureña resident.



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