According to the NY Times:

President Nicolás Maduro has acknowledged that people are hungry in Venezuela, but he has refused to accept international aid, often saying that Venezuela’s economic problems are caused by foreign adversaries like the United States, which he says is waging an economic war against his country.

If it is true that the population is starving: what reason would Maduro have to refuse aid?

5 Answers 5


If President Maduro publicly accepts international aid, what does that say about him and his administration?

  • It broadcasts a clear signal of weakness and distress.
  • It says that he has failed to properly manage his country and care for his people.
  • It suggests that his socialist philosophy and policies are a failure.
  • It suggests that his autocratic form of government is a failure.
  • It gives the opposition a powerful argument for his removal from office.

So, why on earth would he request or accept assistance?

Based on the fact that Venezuela is a country very rich in natural resources, yet there is mass starvation and other forms of suffering across the country, it appears that Maduro's primary objective is simply to stay in office.

Hence, asking for or accepting any form of assistance is a risky proposition. From his perspective, it may be tantamount to admitting failure and defeat.

From another perspective, requesting assistance would make him a responsible and compassionate leader. But if he was that type of leader, Venezuela wouldn't need international assistance in the first place.

There has been extensive media coverage of President Maduro's rejection of international aid over the years, but none of the articles that I have seen explore the reasoning. Most articles don't even mention the topic.

The reason the media doesn't cover this topic seems to be clear: They can't. The Maduro government hasn't provided any reasons. So one can only speculate.

Here's an excerpt from an article that delved into this subject a bit:

The socialist government has not explained why it has rejected these [international aid] initiatives. But opposition leaders say the president is trying to hide the country’s stark state of affairs. “They don’t want to admit that there is a health crisis in this country,” said Juan Andres Mejia, an opposition congressman who supported the latest health crisis bill.

source: https://splinternews.com/venezuela-blocks-humanitarian-aid-as-crisis-gets-crazie-1793857192


  • 9
    Another point is that most of the aid would come from those very same "foreign adversaries like the United States", thus making the falsity of his rhetoric even more obvious.
    – jamesqf
    Commented Jan 29, 2018 at 19:09
  • 4
    While I think this is a good faith attempt to answer the question, there's so little information about the reasoning of Nicolás Maduro and the venezuelan government (and about the extent of the hunger in Venezuela, or its causes) that this is more of a rant against Maduro than a factual answer - which I don't think anyone can provide at this moment.
    – Rekesoft
    Commented Jan 30, 2018 at 14:06
  • 2
    @Rekesoft, thanks. I definitely came at this question in good faith, but it wasn't meant to be a rant against Maduro. I have no passion or other emotions either for or against him. He's just another loser, that's become a dictator, that runs a cruel and oppressive government. History is filled with these types. Soon he'll be gone and will join the ranks of Castro, Ceausescu, Kim Jong-Il, etc. So, not a rant, just an attempt to provide the most complete answer possible at the moment. Commented Feb 1, 2018 at 15:10
  • 1
    Good answer. The "odd" perspective here is then that accepting aid is seen as a sign of weakness, while starvation and hunger being reality isn't.
    – Steeven
    Commented Feb 2, 2018 at 10:40
  • DISCLAIMER: it's just a suposion anyone on Maduro's side can make since they are a lot suspicious of some foreign interests.There's the other side of the coin. How much a supposed aid will really aid? If it's solely a action to hit the news you can provide just minimal resources and explore it on the media while giving not real impact in the population situation. So why bother?
    – jean
    Commented Apr 12, 2018 at 18:57

Maduro IS accepting international aid. Just not from the US. Maduro is accepting aid from Russia, China and other international governments.There are several reasons why Maduro would not accept aid from America. First. America isn't delivering this aid to the Maduro government, instead it's delivering it to political factions allied with Juan Guaido, a man who never stood for election and was not voted as president, declared himself interim president with support and approval from Trump, Pompeo, Pence and Bolton. I think this alone would be legitimate grounds to not allow the aid in. This aid is highly politicized. Now Maduro has stood for elections, and international observers from Latin America, the Caribbean and Africa noted no foul play during the elections, HOWEVER, some of Maduro's political opponents have fled the country or been placed under house arrest (Leopoldo Lopez). We should note however, that in Brazil, Lula De Silva was arrested and prevented from running for president, and he was the favorite to win. The US government and the EU have turned a blind eye to this. If democracy, human rights and free/fair elections were as big a concern as the US and its allies claim it is, Brazil and Saudi Arabia would be much more pressing issues than Venezuela.

The UN warned America against this kind of political stunt, politicizing humanitarian aid. US envoy to Venezuela, Elliot Abrams has in the past used US aid as a Trojan horse to provide weapons to Latin American rebel groups in attempts to overthrow governments. There is evidence that this is already happening in Venezuela.

So Maduro IS accepting aid. But not from America. It's not accepting aid from America, because it is highly politicized, and America has a history of using humanitarian aid as a cover for weapons smuggling, and all of this is clearly a conspiracy to force a regime change in Venezuela, in which Guaido, a man who has never stood for election, and was basically unknown 2 month ago, would become the new president of Venezuela, the country with the largest oil reserves on earth.

Reports of starvation and lack of basic daily supplies should be treated with some skepticism. Max Blumenthal of the Grayzone has been reporting from Venezuela recently, visiting subsidized food markets and supermarkets. It seems that the real crisis is the lack of buying power due to hyperinflation. There definitely is starvation and malnutrition in Venezuela, but it's not necessarily from a lack of food, but a lack of buying power. Venezuela is in the midst of an extreme economic crisis, both of its own making, and deliberately worsened by the US and other US allies, and exploited in yet another attempt at regime change under the guise of spreading democracy, which I think even the least cynical among us should know is not the actual goal here.

  • 3
    Wikipedia States "In the 2010 Venezuelan parliamentary election, Guaidó was elected as an alternate national deputy,[28] and was elected to a full seat in the National Assembly in the 2015 elections with 26% of the vote" which suggests he is elected, unless there is something I am misunderstanding about the positions he holds, which is possible.
    – Jontia
    Commented Mar 2, 2019 at 8:08
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    Correct Jontia, I misworded that sentence pretty badly, I'll edit in your correction. Guaido was elected to the National Assembly, but he never stood for election as president, nor is calling for another election with international observers (the lat election had them and reported no wrongdoing) so that he can challenge Maduro in an election. He just unilaterally declared himself interim president, and the current far right US administration immediately recognised him as president.
    – Icarian
    Commented Mar 2, 2019 at 8:34
  • De Silva was imprisoned for offences he committed as the president, which is a far stretch from being imprisoned for (effectively) running against an incumbent
    – Caleth
    Commented Mar 6, 2019 at 12:58
  • democracynow.org/2018/4/9/…
    – Icarian
    Commented Mar 6, 2019 at 13:06

Foreign aid, when all goes well, is a good thing. The usual metaphor is of neighbors helping neighbors get through a bad patch. International friendship, brotherhood of man, improving all of civilization...

That said, foreign aid does not invariably go well:

  1. it might be incompetent:

    • workers might be sent who are so poorly organized they make things worse, working at cross purposes to natives, or taking command, but so ineptly that little is accomplished.

    • large sums squandered exporting domestic methods that can't possibly succeed in a different environment.

    • monies might be mismanaged by donor groups, who pass on only a small percentage to do the job at hand.

    • workers might spread disease, pollution, or import quarantined objects or creatures.

  2. It might be reckless and expedient:

    • Imports which help in the short term, but inadvertently bankrupt native business by indirect and unintentional competition.

    • Farming methods that do not scale.

    • Useful machines that cannot be maintained without an infrastructure that won't exist for generations.

    • dangerous pesticides, parasites, invasive species...

  3. It might be insufferable:

    • Prideful missionaries distributing goods and inferential insults.

    • Well meaning volunteer youths, who can't speak the language, believe anything, and ooze pity.

    • A toxic bureaucracy or two.

  4. It might attract and import criminal elements:

    • Rogue volunteers, abusing the local comforts and customs, seducing and abandoning women and children.

    • Carpetbaggers who buy up the damaged local economy from temporarily distressed sellers, export the valuables and never reinvest locally.

    • Dealers who import/export contraband goods, who do reinvest locally, in bribes and unhappy products.

  5. It might be corrupted by native criminals:

    • Resources diverted into a black market economy, or even exported.
  6. It might be corrupted by foreign or multinational criminals:

    • Resources adulterated or stolen in transit, to be sold by, (or cheaply sold to), foreign criminals, or used by neighboring warlords.

    • Some ad hoc methods of shipping are less cautiously inspected and may include smuggled contraband.

There are schools of thought that argue foreign aid can be, and is, harmful in a more general sense:

  1. Aid is sometimes used as a kind of economic cold war weapon. That is, a small nation between warring empires will be aided, abused, and advertised to whatever degree suits those empires' conflicting strategies.

  2. Some argue that even sincere aid has been based on an impractical model, which prolongs those very conditions it's intended to assist.

Since Venezuela already regards itself as being abused by such efforts, and holds the US as a direct cause of its food shortage, it therefore would look upon such aid as a further hazard, and disdains it for the same reasons children are taught to refuse candy from strangers in vans.

  • This seems like a good answer, but it would benefit from a few real-world examples. It would also be useful to make some connections to the current situation in Venezuela.
    – Philipp
    Commented Feb 3, 2018 at 11:10

A lot of aid comes with conditions that end up hurting the structure of the economy long term (over focus/investment in industries that serve the country supplying aid). As well, many times aid does not get distributed evenly, and potentially increases corruption.

A great book on this: Road to Hell The Ravaging Effects of Foreign Aid and International Charity By Michael Maren https://www.amazon.com/Road-Hell-Michael-Maren/dp/0743227867



The reason: Maduro perceives the humanitarian aid as a threat to his power. He believes that accepting the aid would discredit him and strengthen Guaidó, the Venezuelan opposition and its foreign supporters. Accepting the food aid would destroy the achievements of the Bolivarian Revolution and install a Washington-friendly puppet Guaidó.


His opponents also perceive the aid as an important step in getting rid of Maduro. Unfortunately I didn't find a direct quote, even though I am certain of having read such an article a few days ago. At least, a Yahoo article states:

Humanitarian aid has become the focal point in Guaido's challenge to Maduro's authority.

If Guaidó can present himself as a hero and savior to the Venezuelan people, Maduro would find it difficult to stay much longer in power. That's why Maduro blocks the aid and hopes for support from another, more friendly source. Whether Maduro can offer enough to convince anyone to grant him a lifeline by delivering enough food, is another question. At least, there are still a few countries which consider his government fully legitimate.

Maduro himself told in an interview with TV channel TeleSur:

“¿Qué es lo que quiere Donald Trump de Venezuela?, ¿ayudar al pueblo? No, lo que quiere es el petróleo, la guerra por el petróleo, lo que quiere es nuestras riquezas”

("What is it that Donald Trump wants from Venezuela? Help the people? No, what he wants is oil, war for oil, what he wants are our resources.")

Thus, he considers the food aid an American Greek gift to Venezuela. According to Maduro Guaidó is a White-House puppet (Miami Herald).

Interestingly, the Colombian Red Cross does not participate, has distanced itself from the food aid and accuses Guaidó's supporters of abusing its symbol and endangering its employees. In particular:

El jefe de la delegación de la Cruz Roja en Colombia, Christoph Harnisch, ya había anunciado días atrás que no distribuirían la supuesta “ayuda humanitaria” enviada por Estados Unidos (EE.UU.) porque “nosotros no participamos en lo que no es para nosotros una ayuda humanitaria”. (Diario Octubre)

(The head of the delegation of the Red Cross in Colombia, Christoph Harnisch, had already declared days ago that they wouldn't distribute the supposed "humanitarian aid" sent by the United States (USA) because "we do not take part in what for us isn't a humanitarian aid")

  • Interesting Harnisch quote. I wonder why Red Cross Columbia see US aid as supposed humanitarian aid? If I were starving, I suspect my stomach does not care where the food comes from (the brain might object, but the stomach would win).
    – gatorback
    Commented Mar 2, 2019 at 12:02

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