(Reuters) – U.S. President Donald Trump’s administration plans to divert more than $40 million (£32.23 million) in humanitarian aid for Central America to support the U.S.-backed opposition in Venezuela, the Los Angeles Times reported on Tuesday, citing sources and an internal memorandum.
The $41.9 million had been destined for Guatemala and Honduras, according to the Los Angeles Times, two of the three Central American countries at the centre of a migration crisis in which thousands of people have fled poverty, violence and corruption and attempted to cross the southern U.S. border.
The memo said the money will instead be used for salaries, airfare, propaganda, technical assistance for elections and “good governance” training for Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaido and his faction, the newspaper reported.
Spokespeople for the State Department, Guaido and Venezuela’s Information Ministry did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Guaido invoked the Venezuelan constitution in January to assume an interim presidency, arguing Venezuela’s President Nicolas Maduro is illegitimate. Maduro, meanwhile, has called Guaido a U.S.-backed puppet and has so far retained his grip on the levers of government.
The State Department announced in June it was slashing hundreds of millions of dollars of aid to El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras, after Trump said the three countries were not doing enough to stem migration.
(Reporting by Makini Brice; Additional reporting by Eric Beech in Washington, Brian Ellsworth in Caracas and Luc Cohen in Caracas; Editing by Chris Reese)