A U.S. report reveals that 98 percent of the foreign aid resources channeled through Juan Guaido were destined for purposes other than humanitarian assistance.
In recent days, social networks have been the scene of an intense debate about what actually happened with the humanitarian aid that the United States allegedly sent to Venezuela through former lawmaker Juan Guaido.
From FY2017 to FY2019, President Donald Trump delivered US$507 million to this opposition politician to purchase goods and services aimed at alleviating the alleged humanitarian emergency in Venezuela. Of that amount, US$260 million was meant for "humanitarian assistance" and US$247 million for "development assistance". These resources, however, were used by Guaido and his regional allies for other purposes.
On April 16, the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) released a report entitled "Enhanced Processes and Implementer Requirements Are Needed To Address Challenges and Fraud Risks in USAID's Venezuela Response."
This audit exercise found that only 2 percent of the U.S. resources reached those who supposedly needed them urgently. In reality, US$497 million out of US$507 million were diverted to purposes other than their original ones. USAID does not know what happened to that money.
Despite being part of a public report, this audit information went unnoticed by mainstream media for months. This week, however, social media posts alerted citizens to the massive fraud committed by Guaido.
Initially, these funds were conceived to be invested in Venezuela and other countries such as Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, and Trinidad and Tobago, where USAID assumed local organizations would contribute to respond to the "regional crisis" prompted by Venezuelan migrants.
All this humanitarian assistance was administered by the Office of U.S. Foreign Disaster Assistance (OFDA), the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), the USAID Office of Food for Peace (FFP), and the USAID Bureau for Latin America.
In its report, USAID refers to specific cases in which fraudulent use of U.S. resources occurred. For example, Guaido signed an "in-kind grant agreement" to purchase goods worth US$334,000, which were to be transported from Colombia to Venezuela. The attempt to pass this alleged humanitarian aid occurred on Feb. 23, 2019.
The meme reads, "USAID does not know the destination of resources granted to Juan Guaido and the opposition for humanitarian aid to Venezuelans."
A day earlier, however, Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro ordered the border closed because of threats to his country's internal security. On that occasion, the Venezuelan opposition blamed the Bolivarian National Guard (GNB) for setting fire to a truck carrying humanitarian aid. Shortly thereafter, however, it was discovered that the fire was set by the opposition themselves.
The USAID report also highlights that not all products were bought because of humanitarian needs. For example, Venezuelan opponents purchased food that OFDA and FFP had determined were unnecessary because the nutritional status of Venezuelan children did not justify their use.
Once this audit report became known through Venezuelan outlets, citizens reacted in the networks demanding explanations from Guaido about the destination of the humanitarian aid.
"The USAID is waiting for them to show in what and where 98 percent of the resources… were invested. Neither that institution nor Guaido have given an answer," Jhonny Agelvis tweeted.
Opposition lawmaker Luis Eduardo also expressed his concern over the results of an audit procedure that USAID routinely carries out in countries receiving aid.
"What is not routine is the results. Only a tiny percentage reached the hands of the supposed beneficiaries. There were no control mechanisms in place, as evidenced by the fact that the resources went to ghost organizations and even ended up in a country as far away as Somalia," he commented.
Despite its magnitude, this is not the first scandal involving the U.S.-backed opposition. In June 2019, Guaido and his allies appropriated humanitarian aid funds from the U.S., the European Union, Canada, Germany, Sweden, Argentina, Chile, Colombia, and Puerto Rico.
Thanks to the U.S. blockade against Venezuela, the self-proclaimed "interim government" has also been controlling the money and assets of Venezuelan companies abroad, including CITGO Petroleum Corporation and Monomeros Colombo Venezolanos. So far, Guaido and his allies have not accounted to anyone about what they they are doing with those resources.