Tuesday, May 17

Chavismo and the opposition reach a political agreement for the purchase of vaccines in Venezuela | International

Workers at the Domingo Luciani hospital in Caracas receive a vaccine against covid-19 this week.
Workers at the Domingo Luciani hospital in Caracas receive a vaccine against covid-19 this week.Miguel Gutiérrez / EFE

The Venezuelan opposition and the Government of Nicolás Maduro forged a delicate political agreement so that the country can access a massive vaccination program against covid-19 with the assistance of international organizations. The pact contemplates that resources of the assets held abroad by the sanctions against the Chavista regime are destined to access the so-called Covax platform promoted by the World Health Organization. The funds released, in dispute between the parties, will make possible the purchase of 12 million vaccines for some six million people. These are, in principle, drugs patented by the AstraZeneca laboratory, whose administration was temporarily suspended in some countries as a precaution against collateral effects.

The news was welcomed by public opinion, including the critical sectors that Guaidó has in the opposition ranks, who have long been clamoring for the establishment of dialogue mechanisms that break the unreasonableness of the political polarization that determines the life of the country. The bankruptcy of the oil state and the isolation of the Maduro government have made many people fear for the indefinite prolongation of the ravages of the pandemic in Venezuela.

The Technical Table, the team that established the conditions of the agreement, was made up of opposition political leaders, Venezuelan medical and academic societies, representatives of the Pan American Health Organization, UNICEF, and Maduro’s Ministry of Popular Power for Health. The consolidation and development of this work team was carried out amidst enormous difficulties and preconditions. The announcement of this agreement was made by Guaidó himself and by a commission of the National Assembly elected in 2015, with an opposition majority – the only Venezuelan bodies recognized by the United States – that continue to challenge Maduro and the election of the Chavista Parliament, and that they operate today in semi-underground conditions.

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Chavismo maintains a legal dispute with the opposition and the United States Administration for control of those resources frozen abroad. Although he has authorized the agreements, he has conducted this episode with total secrecy and discretion. Part of the money is made up of nationwide deposits frozen in a Bank of England account.

Guaidó must apply to the Office of Foreign Assets Control of the United States Department of the Treasury, OFAC, a license to enable these resources. Within the framework of the agreement, the opposition Parliament will ask the Central Bank of Venezuela, in the hands of Maduro, the use of 30 million dollars that will be allocated to vaccines and access to cold chains.

“In Venezuela there is no longer room for improvisation and politicization, so it is imperative that vaccines are administered and distributed by humanitarian agencies. Enough of the negligence and political management that have cost lives in our country, “said Guaidó when making the announcement, who obtained for his cause an important political asset, the first in a long time. For his part, Miguel Pizarro, representative of the Venezuelan opposition to the United Nations, and one of the architects of the agreement, stated: “We must emphasize that the nation’s funds, whose use must be requested and approved by the National Assembly, they are destined directly to the multilateral agencies and mechanisms for the purpose of transparency that this humanitarian operation requires ”.

The United States Ambassador to Venezuela, a resident of Colombia, James Story, congratulated Guaidó and Maduro for the agreement, since their representatives “have sat at the negotiating table to talk about how to work with PAHO and UNICEF to bring vaccines. to Venezuela ”. Even though it maintains control of power with total clarity, the Government of Nicolás Maduro has had to make this concession, recognizing the responsibility of its enemies in a delicate matter of State, tied hands as it is before the onerous obligations of the pandemic and some coffers nationals greatly eroded during his administration.

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While managing on his own the purchase of vaccines from his allies in Russia and China, the Venezuelan president has already declared that he is willing to authorize the private sector – especially the employers’ association Fedecámaras – to manage the purchase of five million euros. Russian vaccines Sputnik V. So far, 700,000 vaccines have entered the country and have been opaquely applied to the ruling hierarchy, medical personnel and school teachers. “This is good news, it allows us to face the panorama of the pandemic in Venezuela with more clarity, there is no doubt,” says the epidemiologist and former Minister of Health José Félix Oletta. “All citizens must fight, demand and ensure that it is fulfilled.”


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