Foreign Affairs Minister Arreza celebrates coordination between Venezuela and Colombia to fight coronavirus
During an interview with the Colombian radio station Radio W, Venezuela’s Foreign Affairs Minister Jorge Arreaza celebrated as “good news for both peoples” the coordination between the Venezuelan and Colombian health ministries with the mediation of the Pan-American Health Organization (PAHO) in order to exchange epidemiological information and healthcare measures to face COVID-19, especially on the 2,219 km (1,378 mi) long border shared by these two countries.
He said he attended the video call held by Venezuela’s and Colombia’s Health Ministers Carlos Alvarado and Fernando Ruiz, PAHO representatives to Caracas and Bogotá, and the Director of PAHO Carissa Etienne in Washington, and complained that they couldn’t establish any direct channel of communication, as requested by Venezuela, to be connected in real time since Colombia insisted that all contacts have to be made through PAHO.
“In any case, we have taken a step forward. And it could be important to prevent contagion and deaths. This was the goal of my calls to establish coordination last Friday and Saturday. Vice President Delcy Rodríguez held a meeting with UN representatives and made a special request to the PAHO representative to make possible that call between the two ministers,” he explained.
Minister Arreaza said that the Venezuelan Health System has strengths and weaknesses, just like Colombia’s, Brazil’s and Spain’s, but Venezuelans have been facing all the obstacles the US blockade has imposed in this COVID-19 epidemiological alarm.
Venezuela relies on a primary healthcare network with more than 15,000 doctors, who have been deployed throughout all the neighborhoods, towns and indigenous communities. Also, the South American country has been strengthening its Comprehensive Diagnosis Centers, secondary healthcare, and network of hospitals, including those equipped to receive coronavirus cases.
Furthermore, the Venezuelan minister confirmed a Cuban delegation is in the country. One of this delegation’s members is Doctor Luis Herrera, creator of Interferon alpha 2B, an antiviral that’s been successfully used to strengthen the immune system and fight coronavirus in China.
“We have a fair amount of this antiviral to treat those people that might have complications from coronavirus,” said Arreaza.
Request to IMF
When asked about Venezuela’s request to the International Monetary Fund (IMF), Foreign Affairs Minister Arreaza explained that this financial organization provides rapid-disbursing emergency funds for contingencies, and Venezuela, as a member of the IMF, used its right to request $ 5 billion, which is the equivalent of the Venezuelan resources that were frozen two years ago in accounts in the United States, the United Kingdom, Portugal and other countries.
“With that money we could have strengthened our health and food systems much further, and of course, that money, in this moment when we are facing the coronavirus pandemic, could be used to buy supplies, medical equipment, masks, and tests to keep more people under evaluation. If we receive these resources, with a direct purchase, which would be the case of this rapid-disbursing fund, we could further supply our hospitals and intensive care units, and prevent the spread of this disease,” he explained.
The Venezuelan diplomat told Colombia’s Radio W that Venezuela is under economic siege because they haven’t only frozen those $ 5 billion, they have also stolen Citgo in the United States and Monomeros in Colombia. Venezuela is a victim of the permanent persecution of its bank accounts and oil industry.
“They call it regime of sanctions, but they are unilateral coercive measures. They have caused a huge damage to our social protection system, and we must compensate it the fastest way to face this pandemic, and the International Monetary Fund offers that possibility,” he said.
Foreign Affairs Minister Arreaza stressed that the US blockade has prevented Venezuela from using its resources. In addition to the $ 5 billion, Venezuela has stopped producing oil revenues due to the persecution against its oil industry, and its assets overseas have been stolen. All of it amounts to over $ 50 billion, “which equals the IMF funds available to help countries in the world in such a contingency.”