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Freedom and Friendship in the Americas

Main Stage

Programming Partner: USAID


  • Carlos Suarez began by acknowledging the devastation caused by hurricanes Eta and Iota in Latin America, explaining the efforts of the U.S. to help the affected countries. Occurring one after the other and hitting the same places twice, an estimated 5.2 million people in Nicaragua, Honduras, and Colombia have been affected by these two hurricanes. On November 17, the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) deployed a response team to provide life-saving humanitarian assistance to the region, an effort which is still taking place. On December 3, acting USAID Deputy Administrator John Barsa announced that USAID is giving an additional $30 million to help people in Honduras, Guatemala, and Colombia. 
  • Moving to an analysis of the Venezuelan crisis, there are currently 7 million Venezuelans inside the country that require urgent humanitarian aid. 5.4 million Venezuelans have had to flee the country in search of refuge. Maduro’s regime is persecuting humanitarian organizations and making it hard for NGOs to register in the country and for humanitarian workers to receive work visas. 
  • Suarez cited four recent human rights reportstwo by UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet, one by the Organization of American States (OAS), and one by the UN Fact Finding Mission. The most relevant of these, by the OAS, states that there is a reasonable basis to conclude that the regime has been committing crimes against humanity in Venezuela since February 2014. Regarding the elections called by Maduro on December 6, Suarez explained that the Venezuelan population, the U.S., and dozens of countries condemn this fraudulent process, and he called for the international community to denounce it.

“Inside Venezuela, humanitarian access remains constrained, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic. Maduro’s regime is harassing humanitarian organizations, and has made it increasingly difficult for international NGOs to legally register and for humanitarian workers to access work visas. While the humanitarian crisis persists, so have the attacks on human rights by Maduro on his own people,” Carlos Suarez

  • In the meantime, Juan Guaidó, the interim president of Venezuela, and his government continue to struggle on behalf of their countrymen. From December 7-12 they will hold Consulta Popular, a democratic voting initiative aimed at giving Venezuelans the chance to speak against Maduro. However, the initiative is being done with a complete lack of national funding or support from the state-run media, and under constant harassment by the regime.
  • The U.S. is deeply committed to addressing the Venezuelan crisis. USAID has given more than $1.2 billion in humanitarian and development assistance to aid Venezuelans inside and outside of the country. The U.S. remains an ally to the Venezuelan people, and will continue assisting Venezuela. Support for the freedom of Venezuela should be a bipartisan effort on behalf of the U.S., and also a global endeavor.

Key takeaways & next steps:

  • There is a considerable set of evidence about systemic human rights violations perpetrated by the Maduro regime against the Venezuelan people, which have reached the status of crimes against humanity.
  • The struggle for Venzuelan freedom requires a bipartisan approach on behalf of the U.S., as well as a unified global effort.
  • Besides its irredeemable differences with the Maduro regime, the U.S. remains a friend of the Venezuelan people and a principal donor aimed at relieving their refugee crisis.


Session Speakers