CARACAS, WILLEMSTAD - Embattled Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro announced an agreement Wednesday with the International Committee of the Red Cross to bring humanitarian aid into a once-rich country now enduring acute shortages of food, medicine and such basics as soap and toilet paper.
As the economy of the oil-rich nation implodes, Maduro is locked in a power struggle with the increasingly popular leader of the opposition, national assembly speaker Juan Guaido.
The Red Cross, in cooperation with UN agencies, will bring 'all possible help'. So far, Maduro only allowed emergency aid from the countries of India, China, Russia and Turkey. The president has called not to politicize the arrival of the Red Cross.
In January, Guaido tried to spearhead a drive to bring in donated food and medicine from Colombia, Brazil and Curaçao but the effort failed as the army, which is loyal to Maduro, blocked shipments at the border.
Maduro argued that letting in such assistance, much of it provided by the US, would be the first step towards a US intervention.