Her Campus Logo Her Campus Logo
Culture > News

Why U.S. Humanitarian Intervention Isn’t What it Seems

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Columbia Barnard chapter.

Recently, the United States began sending humanitarian aid to Venezuela. While the actual conflict in the country is more complicated than I could possibly get into, this aid is clearly a bad idea. Even though the average Venezuelan loses twenty pounds a year, we can look to U.S. intervention masked as humanitarian aid in various other countries in Latin and South America to see how the United States’ help is actually an excuse to imperialize the nation.

Here are just a few examples of the United States intervening in Latin American countries, causing violence, fraud, and the destruction of democracy.


Jorge Serrano, a Stanford graduate, was elected president of Guatemala in 1991. But in 1993, the CIA helped overthrow him because of his leftist tendencies. Following the coup U.S. propped up a puppet president Ramiro de Leon Carpio and supported multiple groups that were infamous for human atrocities in Guatemala. Although the U.S. said they enacted the coup to strengthen democracy and human rights, they were actually involved with many “reprehensible” human rights violations. It was so bad that the CIA’s Chief of the Latin American Division was forced to retire because of Guatemala.


The United States has an imperialist history with Honduras that dates back multiple decades (mostly since Reagan’s administration), but the most recent flare was in 2009. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, backed by the Obama administration, supported a contestable election. And after the 2017 election, which was wrought with irregularities, fraud, and violence, the U.S. continues to support the government. Although the high murder-rate has gone down, thousands of people are still fleeing the country to try to get to the United States, the country which caused these problems to begin with.

El Salvador

The Trump administration recently announced that they will be ending the protected status of almost 200,000 Salvadorans who live in the United States and who would face extreme violence at the hands of U.S. backed terrorist groups in El Salvador. In the 1980s a civil war between leftists and the fascist government which had controlled the country for decades (with U.S. support) began. The military government, which kept peasants illiterate and impoverished, committed unspeakable acts during the war, all backed by the United States. Luckily the country has progressed after the war under the current leftist government in charge.


The U.S. has a long history of dubious relations with Bolivian right-wing groups, but most recently the U.S. used aid organizations like USAID to secretly support opposition groups.

I understand that Venezuelans need help right now (and that Maduro is actually a despicable leader who uses the name “leftist,” but isn’t), but the United States never was and will never be the answer. The U.S. thrives on a forgetful world to build its empire.