Statement to the press by President Nicolás Maduro about the Covid-19
Good afternoon to everyone present, national and international media and a special greeting to all the people of Venezuela, being 12 and 35 minutes from this noon. Well, today we are facing a truly alarming situation, we have been monitoring for more than 6 weeks, since the coronavirus, COVID-19 named after the World Health Organization, began its expansion process. The World Health Organization has maintained an impeccable system of information to the governments and health authorities of the world, we have seen how It has expanded itself in more than 100 countries in the world. The complex situation experienced by our sister Republic of China, which is still living, led President Xi Jinping to extraordinary measures, classified by the World Health Organization as exemplary measures, to face a truly unique situation in the last 100 years we could say.
Our generations do not know of a pandemic situation like this. A situation like this has not been faced by humanity, for at least more than a century, and this has led to great challenges. China has announced that it has contained and controlled this pandemic, but this pandemic, as you know, is in more than 100 countries, it has hit countries in Asia such as South Korea; Japan, Iran, it is ruthlessly hitting sister countries in Europe like Italy, which has had to take drastic measures to practically paralyze an entire country, Spain, Germany, France and the United States, the numbers, well, they really show great concerns.
The Venezuelan health system has decided to declare it a permanent emergency for prevention, protection anywhere in the country. We have made the forecasts as far as the criminal sanctions allow us, I have to always say, this would be a time to demand that President Donald Trump lift the criminal sanctions against Venezuela so that Venezuela can go to the market to buy everything that it needs at the medical level to curb this situation. It costs us three times to go out and look for the tests, the diagnostic tests, but we have managed to have enough for this stage, and we continue to search to have enough diagnostic tests for the subsequent stages that may come; the kit of treatments for the derivatives of pneumonia and respiratory diseases caused by the coronavirus, to equip. Right now we have decided to make available 46 public hospitals all over the nation as the center of the coronavirus care process throughout the national territory, and we have made the respective coordination so that the private system do the same.
I have believed it necessary, with the analysis that the presidential team for the care of the coronavirus has given me, led by Vice-president Delcy Rodríguez who has the entire medical and scientific apparatus of the country at her disposal, I have decided to suspend – for up to a month – all flights from Europe and Colombia to add to preventive processes at the international level.
We are also making supreme efforts to coordinate with the Colombian government, given that several cases have already appeared in that country; our solidarity with the people of Colombia; We have a gigantic border, just the border through San Antonio del Táchira and Ureña, 60, 80 thousand people a day move from Cúcuta to Venezuela and vice versa.
And I say from here to the government of Colombia, to President Duque, beyond ideological differences, that this is a true humanitarian situation and we need to coordinate from government to government, from the Ministry of Health to the Ministry of Health, from health authorities to health authorities, and cordon off the entire border and protect the people of Venezuela, the people of Colombia, act together, as all the states and all the governments of the world are doing. The Minister of Health is calling the Minister of Colombia and I have asked the health authorities in the regions, in Zulia, in Táchira, in Apure, in Amazonas to establish coordination, because it is urgent and, furthermore, we cannot make excuses for political matters, because we should not politicize this issue. This is an issue that merits the union of humanity, world cooperation and effective measures to be taken in time, the Presidential Commission has recommended that we take special measures, which are going to escalate, and I ask the people of Venezuela for greater understanding, for the greatest cooperation, I ask the community councils, the more than 46 thousand community councils, the CLAPs, I ask the entire network of social, neighborhood and popular organizations, I ask all the social movements in the country, without exclusion, may they take the lead in the battle to protect the people of Venezuela from this coronavirus pandemic, we have to take measures which could escalate if necessary, in the next few hours, days or weeks. In some countries they have already worked as in China, and the first measure we have to take is to suspend and prohibit massive public gatherings, events, concerts, the closure of public spaces such as museums or in public places.
On these details, the Vice-president will address the country in the next few hours, in the next few days to establish coordination, it is necessary to establish coordination with public institutions, for example with the Catholic Church, with the Evangelical Church, which have closed the spaces where they carry out activities and the people in the midst of this pandemic must be aware of the need for cooperation. We must also be aware that the coronavirus has not only affected the health and life of humanity, but the world economy as well. All the people should know, that the economy of some countries has been slowed down ot totally paralyzed, and in recent days we have seen the collapse of oil prices and international markets, in just one day, something that has not been seen since 1991 came to happen, oil experts point out that for the first time they observe this phenomenon, in a single day the oil price fell from $ 59 a barrel to 33 dollars a barrel, today was placed at 35, we are talking about 24 dollars in a single day, which meant the abrupt fall, for several days, including today March 12, Thursday March 12, of the markets and the catastrophic announcements. I am not exaggerating. I tell you, let’s approach this with serenity and balance but with objectivity, and our feet on the Earth. Compatriots, catastrophic announcements in the field of economy, finance and oil.
Venezuelan oil also fell from $ 48, $ 49 a barrel to $ 24, 25, a barrel, which hit income very hard.
Venezuela is now ready to face economic difficulties. We are prepared because we are aware of it; We are prepared because we have faced an economic war that has trained us in the fight in the midst of difficulties, and also because the economy has achieved self-regulation that allows us today to face this situation with greater capacity, with greater potential; and I am monitoring day by day the harmful effects it may have, and well, taking measures and decisions to protect the right to food, the right to the people’s CLAP; to protect public healthcare; to protect the right to work, and the conditions that we have to face; If we have to face the closure of towns and cities in due course, we will protect the workers and the businessmen and companies of the country, have no doubt about it; to protect the right to education in the conditions we have upon us. If we have to partially suspend classes in a locality, in a situation, or in a town, or in the whole country, we will guarantee education, since the Ministry of Education is preparing to continue the school year through social media channels, the Internet, by the ways that we fortunately have today as technological tools.
So we have the will, the spiritual strength, the conviction, and we are also trained in the battle against difficulties, and I can tell the people of Venezuela, we are going to face all these circumstances and we are going to overcome all of this with the union of all Venezuelans, the union of all of us, it’s not a time for differences, confrontations, it is a time for cooperation, understanding, agreements. It is time to put the focus on a global pandemic that threatens our beloved homeland, and that has struck and keeps striking all of humanity.
So, well, we are here, 24 hours a day at the Miraflores Presidential Palace, the Presidential Command Post is activated 24 hours a day. I have put the Presidential Commission coordinated by Vice-president Delcy Rodríguez at the head of this Presidential Command Post, so the entire scientific, medical, technical and professional team are here at the Miraflores Palace and from the Presidential Command Post coordinated with all states, municipalities, localities, with the People’s Power.
I have given orders to the Bolivarian National Armed Forces to put themselves at the forefront of all the protection activities of our people, and compliance with the necessary health protocols that are activated day by day.
So in civic-military union, with the moral strength and discipline that characterizes our people, we are going to face the new stages of this pandemic in absolute coordination with the World Health Organization.
If I can say something from Venezuela to the governments and peoples of the world, if I can highlight something special it is that we have to listen to the World Health Organization, they have been warning that measures are taken, that this pandemic is to be taken seriously and from Venezuela we say we have taken it seriously, and we are ready to raise our preventive measures, protection to the highest levels. I ask all of you ministries, all the officials, the civil and military health authorities of the country, to put ourselves at the level of the circumstances of this challenge, of this pandemic that humanity for many decades or centuries had not faced, is the first pandemic of the 21st century, knocking down the whole world and here we are we are ready, prepared and with all the strength and energy to get ahead with our people. I am at the service of some questions, please, welcome.
Right, the possibility of closing the border with Colombia and Brazil is contemplated, but the first thing we need is the coordination of the health and medical authorities of the government of Colombia, the government of Brazil and our government, that’s the first, we are going to insist a thousand times to put aside the ideological differences that are small in the face of this pandemic and to be able to effectively attend to the border population, and to be able to prevent this situation of Colombia and Brazil from expanding coronavirus that has already appeared in those countries. About the flight to other regions, we will continue evaluating and it will be notified, new measures will be announced if necessary.
About 30 cases have arrived nationwide since 3 weeks ago, fortunately thanks to the World Health Organization we have the diagnostic tests and they were able to be done, because in the first exchange we went out to buy diagnostic tests for the coronavirus but the international private companies said that they were threatened with criminal sanctions, by the United States government who persecutes us, but nothing is going to stop us to guarantee our people what they need. In this case, well, we have discarded the infection until today, it has been done with professionalism. Venezuela has professionals, epidemiologists, virologists, infectious diseases, health scientists, a powerful National Institute of Hygiene, Health, and well, with first-class health centers, let me tell you, first-rate, and the morale of hospitals, the morale of the medical professional, of bioanalysis professionals, of health professionals, well, it is set at the highest level to face this situation.
I ask you not to politicize from any union or political sector, and try not to take advantage of this pandemic situation.
If it appears, as you, an international journalist for the US agency AP, the Associated Press say, if any problem arises from a hospital, it must be solved, you should not try to make it a political flag, but rather in cooperation between all of us. We have faced great sabotage, including terrorism. Well, you are a witness of the terrorism that we have faced, an attack on a health warehouse of the Venezuelan Institute of Social Security that left us without medicine for almost 6 months that we had to replace; the attack on the Cantv technological system, the attack on the CNE last Saturday, and we are not complaining, we are at the forefront, solving the problems that must be solved. In this case, the Minister of Health, the Presidential Commission must immediately attend any case of the 46 sentinel hospitals, and I request all the human, professional cooperation of the health personnel of Venezuela to become in one human spirit, in a single national spirit to get ahead and serve our people.
About income, what else can I tell you? The persecution of all ships that bring energy products to Venezuela; The persecution against oil export ships by the United States government is brutal, the only country in the world, they chase our ships, they threaten the countries that are going to buy from us. And now, well, the abrupt drop, in the case of the Venezuelan oil price, of 23 dollars a barrel; of course the blow against the country’s income is brutal, of course it is.
That is why I demand from here, and I ask the Foreign Minister of the Republic to immediately assume this management so that the United States government – in the midst of this pandemic – lift all the unjust and illegal sanctions on the oil and the economy of Venezuela. But just as I tell you this, I tell you, Venezuela will succeed, and we will protect our people and guarantee what they need to continue their social life, face these circumstances, and with the model of social protection that Venezuela has, guarantee the rights of the people. So I tell you, so I have told you, and so it will be.
Well, the support from China is coming, first of all, with the diagnostic test kits and equipment, it is very important, thousands of diagnostic tests are coming from China. And we are officially and urgently asking China to send us a group of experts who have been in the combat and control of this pandemic in China, for us to add knowledge, efforts; this knowledge must be added, that is why we listen so much to the World Health Organization, and we are open to listening to the recommendations and proposals of all the scientific sectors of the country, and beyond the country, asking countries to support the effort we are doing, it’s an effort of the whole humanity.
And from Cuba 10 thousand Interferon treatments have arrived, which has been one of the most successful treatments for the recovery and saving of the life of patients with coronavirus, Interferon. Interferon is a medicine created by Cuba’s own biotechnology system, and through the Cuba-Venezuela agreement we already have 10,000 applications of Interferon to treat any case that arises. Interferon has been a great success, especially in the Chinese crisis, recognized by the Chinese government, by the World Health Organization, and so we are asking for the world’s help, the world’s support, and we will continue moving forward.
Undoubtedly, there are social media laboratories and political sectors of the opposition that have tried to misuse, manipulate this global pandemic, it is very unfortunate, very unfortunate.
I only call for the perverse campaigns to stop capsizing the minds of Venezuelans, and manipulate this global pandemic. For God, for Jesus Christ, for our people, do not be so miserable and perverse, respect even once in your life the right of the people to face a situation that is a global pandemic, the first in more than a hundred years. I am not talking about a truce in this case, because common sense, logic should lead a human being, in this case a political leader, from the right or from whomever, to say I put myself at the service of this world cause to collaborate with the people. Hopefully we all step forward, the coronavirus pandemic is not about an ideological or political difference, a confrontation or a sterile lawsuit. It is about the life and health of the people, of the people. And in that sense I appeal to the best human feelings of the people of Venezuela so that we face these two circumstances: First, the health circumstance of a pandemic that threatens the lives of the peoples of the world and Venezuela, and we are the greatest example of social discipline, social organization, medical scientific quality, cooperation to solve all these situations. And secondly, the economic, oil and energy situation that is just beginning to face it with a spirit of work. Venezuelan businessmen know that under any circumstance we are prepared to support them, I have already seen a series of decisions, actions, tax exemptions, through the carnet de la patria to pay payrolls, we are prepared to pay the payrolls that have to be paid, to support soft loans to the entire small and medium industry and the entire business sector. We are going to face this situation on an economic and financial level, we are going to strengthen the national spirit to go ahead as we have to go. I also have to report that we have been in contact with our OPEC partners for several days, since last Sunday due the collapse of oil prices and the serious situation of world markets, we are in permanent communication with OPEC partners, such as Russia’s oil producers, to take initiatives in the days to come, dialogue, reunion with more non-OPEC countries and search from OPEC, OPEC Plus, solutions in the short, medium and long term, the importance for health has been demonstrated in this circumstance.
It is now when we see the importance and value of the December 2016 agreements that amazed the world, the world economy has enjoyed stable, safe, predictable oil markets and prices during the years 2017, 18, 19, Until the coronavirus situation, let’s go back, I say to our OPEC partners, to our extra-OPEC partners, let’s go back to the reunion, to dialogue and look for agreements for short-term, medium-term and long-term solutions, that will give the oil market and oil prices, the equilibrium and economic balance of the world. If you can, when you act with a clear vision, with a strategy, with firm steps and with your feet on the ground, everything is possible, everything is possible.
I call our people, the media, all social movements, community councils, I call to all Venezuelans to act in good faith and with the blessing of our God, with the protection of our Lord Jesus Christ, we will face this situation and we will go forward. Good afternoon, everyone.