Through a communique, the Venezuelan government on Wednesday condemned the international conference of countries calling themselves “donors”, led by the European Union, which claims to seek money to “help the Venezuelan exodus and the countries that host them.” The event, held by videoconference, which would have had representatives from 60 countries and organizations of different types, would have raised some 3 billion dollars between loans and donations. President Maduro described the meeting as a “scam” and noted that none of these donors mentioned Venezuelan immigrants were victims of xenophobia and ill-treatment. Jorge Rodríguez, Minister of Communication, claimed that Venezuela is not allowed to access the resources it has frozen in international banks, and multilateral organizations such as UNDP are not even allowed to have access to those funds to support the fight against Covid-19 in Venezuela.
International media claim that representatives of 60 countries, non-governmental and international organizations participated on Tuesday in the first international conference of “donors to help the Venezuelan exodus and the countries that host them.” The text stresses that “five million people have fled” from what they call “the dictatorship of Nicolás Maduro”; Hence, the Venezuelan Foreign Ministry indicates that it is a “propaganda event”, with a clear political position.
The conference was organized by the European Union (EU) and Spain and has the support of countries of the European Union, the United States, Canada and Japan. It was chaired by the high representative of the EU Foreign Policy, Josep Borrell, and by the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Arancha González Laya. “The organizers, in collaboration with the United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR) and the International Agency for Migration (IOM), seek to mobilize resources for the host population and communities,” according to their own press releases.
According to the Spanish newspaper El Mundo, the meeting allegedly raised more than 2,544 million euros, between donations and loans. Reuters claims the total is $ 3.4 billion. The European Investment Bank would have made a loan of 400 million euros and the European Union would lend another 144 million. Spain would make a contribution of 50 million euros in three years, for Colombia, Peru and Ecuador.
If the amounts (both money and emigrants) are true, each Venezuelan migrant could receive a 600 euros donation. Te majority of the Venezuelan diaspora abroad when consulted about this aid acknowledge they have not seen any aid.
This Wednesday, the Venezuelan Foreign Ministry issued a statement that deplores this activity, considered a “fraudulent spectacle for the alleged attention to the migrant population.” It is “an ideological event to attack the Bolivarian government and hide external aggression and interference,” said Foreign Minister Jorge Arreaza in a message he published on his Twitter account.
Donations for the coup?
Last year, USAID (United States Development Agency) claimed to have given more than $400 million to programs led by opposition deputy Juan Guaidó, including alleged aid programs for Venezuelan emigration. However, Guaidó’s involvement in a contract with the private security contractor SilverCorp for the execution of a coup in Venezuela, for which they had promised to pay $212 million, suggests that these funds were not intended to help needy emigrants.
In this regard, President Maduro spoke Tuesday in a meeting by videoconference with the presidential commission against Covid-19, broadcast on state television. “Today there was a meeting via conference to talk about migration in Venezuela, a club of swindlers who use the topic of migration to speak ill of Venezuela, and to raise money to steal it,” said Maduro. It’s a scammers club! They do not say that Venezuelan migrants are being dumped from their homes and jobs. That there is a Nazi-fascist persecution against Venezuelans (in South America). They do not speak of them being infected in Colombia. And Iván Duque (president of that country) comes out to talk about Venezuelan migration.”
Maduro noted that 50,000 Venezuelan migrants have returned to the country since the Covid-19 quarantine began and are being taken care of for free. An additional 50,000 are expected to return. “Venezuelan migration is fleeing from Colombia, Ecuador, Peru and Brazil. They are fleeing from the governments of the Lima Group!”
On Tuesday, the Venezuelan vice president, Delcy Rodríguez, again demanded the lifting of sanctions and the blockade of Venezuelan state accounts in international banks, and emphasized the case of Venezuelan gold retained by the Bank of England, an organization that has even refused to hand over the funds to UNDP (United Nations Development Program) so that said organization can use it to help Venezuela in the fight against Covid-19.
On Wednesday, the minister for Communication and Information, Jorge Rodríguez, repudiated this the Donors Club. “Venezuela is fighting in the midst of a fierce blockade, where we are even denied the purchase of fuel, which is essential to transport food, medicine and even sick people. We are even denied access to the resources that are from Venezuela and were stolen by North American banks, by the Bank of England that has stolen 1.2 billion dollars of gold from the central bank’s reserves.”
“We have told Europe, the United States, the Bank of England, to deliver these resources to the United Nations Development Program, to the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO), to the World Health Organization (WHO), so that supplies can be acquired to combat the pandemic. But they have refused it,” he said.
But he recalled that, in the midst of this context, Venezuela is fighting and has managed to contain Covid-19, which has not happened in the countries of the self-styled Lima Group.
Here is the full official translation of the communique from the Venezuelan Ministry of Foreign Affairs:
Venezuela deplores alleged EU concern over the COVID-19 situation in the country.
The Bolivarian republic of Venezuela deplores the fraudulent spectacle organized by a group of governments, self-proclaimed donors, led by the European Union, which seeks to deceive the international community in order to legitimize its continued interventionist actions, through false and rigged promises of funds, supposedly aimed at addressing Venezuelan migration.
This was an ideological media event, taken as a pretext to attack the government of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, with the unavoidable aim of trying to hide the most recent economic aggressions and mercenary operations against the Venezuelan people. In reality, it was nothing more than a new battle for resources between bureaucracies of international organizations and political managers, with no relation whatsoever to the real needs of Venezuelan migrants. A made-up action that seeks to wash away the shameful complicity of the European Union in its notorious subordination to the policy of regime change of Washington, and its complicity with the unilateral coercive measures that cause so much damage and suffering in Venezuela.
The alleged European concern about the situation of COVID-19 in Venezuela is cynical when the so-called recipient countries and most of the self-proclaimed donors are the main focus of Coronavirus in the region and worldwide. It is precisely these governments that deserve recourses and donations to face the collapse of their health systems, protect the lives of their citizens and recover their economies from COVID-19.
It is inexcusable to conceal the massive return of Venezuelan migrants motivated by xenophobia, discrimination, mistreatment and, more recently, by the poor management of the pandemic in the host countries. Since mid-2019, thousands of Venezuelan men and women have returned. It should be noted that no testimony from the returnees attests to any support or economic assistance by those governments through the alleged donors.
Venezuela ratifies that its institutions will continue to attend to the tens of thousands of Venezuelan migrants who today are returning to their homeland, fleeing from the enslaving xenophobia, persecution, and uncontrolled spread of COVID-19 in the receiving countries and alerts the world to the transparency in the use and destination of the announced resources, which correspond in their majority to bank loans, so more than a conference of donors, the event in question can be qualified as a club of lenders and scammers, whose governments and banks have frozen more than 10 billion dollars of the Venezuelan people in the last years. A shameful act in times of such difficulty for the peoples of Europe, North America and Latin America.
Caracas, May 27th, 2020
Featured image: Courtesy Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Spain
Translated by JRE/EF