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Struggling Venezuela offers aid after Caribbean hurricanes

MiamiHerald / When Hurricane Harvey hit, Venezuela offered $5 million in aid to Texas through its Citgo petroleum company. Then came hurricanes Irma, Jose and Maria, and with every threat, Venezuela’s military cargo planes and helicopters were there, helping with relief and recovery from Cuba to Dominica.

The South American country may be engulfed in political and economic turmoil with acute food shortages, soaring prices and fresh U.S. sanctions, but that isn’t stopping its besieged government from coming to the rescue of Caribbean islands ravaged by a string of catastrophic storms . The assistance is raising questions about whether it’s more about scoring political points and winning allies than humanitarianism.

“It’s all politics,” said Russ Dallen, a managing partner at investment bank Caracas Capital Markets who also advises U.S. lawmakers on Venezuela.

“Harvey hits and they come with a bid to give $5 million. Venezuelans are starving and they are going to give $5 million away to help Texans in million-dollar mansions who got flooded? It doesn’t make a whole lot of sense except as a marketing scheme.”

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