USAID in Venezuela - Frequently Asked Questions

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What’s going on in Venezuela?

Once a prosperous nation in Latin America and an example of freedom and democracy, Venezuela is currently facing the worst man-made economic and political crisis in its history because of Nicolás Maduro’s authoritarian regime. Due to years of misguided actions, political repression, and an illegitimate grip on power by Maduro, most Venezuelans are now unable to cover their basic needs, including food, water, and medicine.

Maduro has stolen the basic rights and freedoms of the Venezuelan people. In 2018, Maduro gave himself almost unlimited powers through fraudulent elections, attempting to steal another six-year term. His handpicked Supreme Court took away all the powers of the democratically elected National Assembly. He created and controlled an illegitimate Constituent Assembly to usurp the democratic National Assembly’s authority from 2017 to 2020. Maduro took measures to delegitimize the internationally-recognized Interim Government of Venezuela by holding fraudulent elections on December 6, 2020 to replace the legitimate National Assembly with regime supporters. Venezuela’s political and economic crisis — reported to be one of the world’s deepest economic declines, including situations of war or disaster in the last century — has led to severe food and medicine shortages and has driven more than five and a half million people to flee the country since 2014. As prices rise and wages fall, parents are unable to meet their families’ needs. Children go to school with empty stomachs, if they still attend school at all. According to the Living Conditions Survey, by 2019-2020 96 percent of Venezuelans lived in poverty and 70 percent in extreme poverty. Crumbling infrastructure has caused widespread blackouts and disrupted water and sanitation services. The collapsing health system and the spread of once-rare diseases have created serious public health concerns in Venezuela and the region on top of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Recent United Nations assessments detail the “dire” depth of suffering in this once-prosperous country. The UN Food and Agriculture Organization reported that one in five Venezuelans were undernourished in 2018, four times as many people who were suffering from hunger in 2014. A UN Human Rights [DOCX, 67K] report issued in July 2019 confirmed that grave violations of economic and social rights, including the rights to food and health, have been committed in Venezuela. A report on a two-year independent international fact-finding mission will be presented at the 48th session of the UN Human Rights Council in September 2021.

Yet, even as hospitals run out of medicine, and families across Venezuelan cannot access sufficient food, water, or health services, the regime continues to block the humanitarian community’s ability to operate independently at the scale necessary to address the enormous needs.

How is USAID helping the people of Venezuela?

Since the crisis began, USAID has provided more than $230 million in economic and development assistance and more than $810 million in humanitarian assistance to alleviate the suffering of people in Venezuela and Venezuelan migrants and host communities in Colombia, Peru, Ecuador and Brazil.

Does USAID operate inside Venezuela?

The struggle for democracy in Venezuela is led by the Venezuelan people themselves. USAID has a long tradition of standing by those who have continued to assert their rights and maintain a democratic voice in the face of dictatorship.

Inside Venezuela, USAID has committed more than $127 million for development funding, including $90 million to support Venezuelan human rights defenders, civil society organizations, independent media, and electoral oversight.

Is USAID helping Venezuelans who have left the country?

The United States is supporting response efforts in 16 countries hosting Venezuelan migrants, including Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, and Peru. With our humanitarian partners, we are providing emergency food and health assistance, shelter, safe drinking water, and critical relief items. U.S. partners are also helping protect vulnerable Venezuelans from violence and exploitation, and providing legal support for Venezuelan asylum-seekers. This assistance complements the efforts of host countries to aid those who have fled repression and chaos in Venezuela.

As we continue to ramp up humanitarian aid, the United States is also working to boost host countries’ long-term capacity to respond to the influx of Venezuelans. Throughout the region, USAID has committed more than $102 million to strengthen and expand social services, providing technical support to national migration authorities, and creating new economic opportunities in communities hosting Venezuelans.

Read more about what USAID is doing to help Venezuelans who have fled the man-made crisis.

What is the Development Objective Assistance Agreement (DOAG)?

On October 8, 2019, former USAID Administrator Mark Green and Venezuelan Ambassador to the United States Carlos Vecchio announced a Development Objective Agreement, the first bilateral agreement USAID has signed with Venezuela in more than 65 years. This agreement serves as a mechanism for USAID and the administration of the legitimate Interim Government of Venezuela to collaborate on development programming inside Venezuela. This agreement does not transfer funds to the interim Guaidó Administration.

Does USAID funding go directly to the interim government to implement these assistance programs?

No. Worldwide, most USAID funding is awarded competitively to private organizations through contracts, grants, or cooperative agreements. Implementing partners include faith-based and community organizations, the private sector, colleges and universities, public international organizations, and non-profit non-governmental organizations. Although no USAID programs or funds are currently managed by the Interim Government of Venezuela, in some cases, USAID has supported the compensation, travel costs, and other expenses for certain technical advisors and administrative staff of the legitimate Interim Government through assistance funds. No funds are provided directly to the legitimately elected National Assembly members, Ambassadors, or high-level officials of the Interim Government.

Last updated: July 23, 2021

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