Will The US, EU Unfreeze Venezuela's Funds for Vaccine Purchase?

Published January 4th, 2021 - 11:44 GMT
A health worker interviews a Venezuelan man in Cucuta, on the Colombian border with Venezuela, as he waits to get a Covid-19 test at a testing center, on December 28, 2020. Colombia has been one of the worst hit countries in Latin America by the pandemic with more than 1.5 million cases and over 40,000 deaths. Schneyder MENDOZA / AFP
A health worker interviews a Venezuelan man in Cucuta, on the Colombian border with Venezuela, as he waits to get a Covid-19 test at a testing center, on December 28, 2020. Colombia has been one of the worst hit countries in Latin America by the pandemic with more than 1.5 million cases and over 40,000 deaths. Schneyder MENDOZA / AFP

The United States, Britain and some European Union states have rejected Venezuela’s appeal to unfreeze its sanctioned assets in order to purchase the much-needed coronavirus vaccine, the nation’s President Nicolas Maduro has unveiled.

"The governments of Portugal, Spain, the United Kingdom and the US and their financial institutions have frozen and blocked funds for access to a vaccine. We demanded via the WTO that they provide us with access to funds, and we were refused," Maduro said Sunday.

Noting that his request to use the country’s foreign assets as a means of purchasing COVID-19 vaccines had been denied by the four Western governments, the Venezuelan president further explained that his Vice President Delcy Rodriquez had held talks with the foreign ministers of Portugal, Spain, the UK and the US, who rejected the humanitarian request.

Choked by US sanctions, Venezuela has plunged into a deep economic crisis and suffers from an acute shortage of basic goods, food and medicine, compounded by the coronavirus pandemic.

As of Monday, the government started implementing a seven-day lockdown in an attempt to curtail the spread of the virus, which has so far infected 113,562 people and killed 1,028 others, based on official figures.

Last week, Maduro announced that Venezuela had reached a deal with Russia for the supply of 10 million doses of Sputnik V, the Russian COVID-19 vaccine.

In their persisting bid to overthrow Venezuela’s elected president, Washington has led its European and Latin American allies to impose brutal financial sanctions on Venezuela as well as other destabilizing measures to force Maudro out of power, including multiple coup and assassination attempts.

Maduro emphasized last month, prior to the nation’s legislative elections, that 99 percent of the Central American nation’s dollar income has been blocked by the series of illegal economic sanctions imposed by the US, reiterating that Washington was planning to use the financial bans to bring about an economic collapse of Venezuela and prompt the ouster of its president.

Maduro also revealed in December that there had been an attempt on his life on the day of the parliamentary elections, in which his ruling socialist party won by a landslide.

The Venezuelan president implicated neighboring Colombia in the plot, accusing its US-backed President Ivan Duque of playing “a role in the plans to organize my assassination.”

Maduro has on multiple occasions held to task Colombia and the US for having plotted to eliminate him and his senior military officials since a long time ago.

He said both countries were governed by extremists, recalling how Washington had orchestrated a coup to topple his government in 2019.

The development came as Maduro declared plans on Friday to further expand Venezuela's ties with Iran, Russia and China among other allies in 2021 in order to boost his nation’s economic status.

 

“The gate of our country is open to the world,” Maduro said during an interview with Venezuelan news agency AVN, saying: “Undoubtedly, we will establish special relations with the governments and nations of Russia, the People's Republic of China, the Islamic Republic of Iran, Cuba, India, as well as relations with Turkey and the countries of South Africa.”

Meanwhile, Maduro announced in early October that Russia had delivered the first batch of its Sputnik-V vaccine against the novel coronavirus to Venezuela, where 2,000 volunteers were selected to participate in the trials.

"The Russian vaccine is already in Venezuela, tests have begun, there are already 2,000 volunteers," Maduro said at the time. "When the vaccines are approved, we will produce them in Venezuela and we will vaccinate the entire population against the coronavirus."

This article has been adapted from its original source.


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