Trump Warns Maduro to Stop Blocking Humanitarian Aid

Colombian president: Obstructing aid is a 'crime against humanity'

President Trump with president of Colombia Ivan Duque / Getty Images)
February 13, 2019

President Donald Trump on Wednesday warned of U.S. action against the Maduro regime if he continues to block shipments of humanitarian aid and other assistance from the U.S. and other countries aimed at helping the Venezuelan people.

"I think he's making a terrible mistake by not allowing the aid to be delivered," Trump said Wednesday during an appearance with Colombian president Ivan Duque in the Oval Office.

"We're trying to get food to people [who] are starving. You have people starving in Venezuela, and it just shows what can happen with the wrong government. You have the wrong government, bad things happen."

Maduro's economic mismanagement has led to shortages of food, medicine, and other basic necessities, forcing hundreds of thousands of Venezuelans to seek refuge in neighboring Colombia over the last year and a half while others have joined massive protests across the country aimed at pushing Maduro out of power.

The Trump administration and many European countries want Maduro out of office and have formally recognized opposition leader Juan Guaido as Venezuela's legitimate leader.

While Trump did not say whether he would send U.S. troops into Venezuela, he said he is keeping all of his options on the table if Maduro does not leave office.

"I always have Plan B. and C, and D, and E and F," Trump said. "We'll see, but there are many plans, and we'll see where we go."

The president also said that the U.S. and Colombian forces are "very focused and working together."

"We'll be seeing a lot over the next few weeks," he added, citing tremendous support for the U.S. position in South America and throughout the world.

Duque denounced Maduro's efforts to block the humanitarian aid, what he called a "crime against humanity," and said Bogota is squarely behind Guaido. He said his government next weekend will host a meeting of the Lima Group, a coalition of Latin American countries that largely supports Maduro's departure, and is committed to giving Guaido the "strong support he needs to lead the transition in Venezuela."

"I think the days for this dictatorship are about to end, and we have to continue working on that," he said.

"We have to give a very strong message to the dictatorship: Obstructing the access of humanitarian aid is a crime against humanity," he said. "We have to ensure that the humanitarian aid gets to the Venezuelan people."