The president of Venezuela, Nicolás Maduro, rejected on Thursday that the country is not included in the group that will receive the donation of vaccines against COVID-19 provided by the government of his US counterpart Joe Biden.
Addressing James Story, head of a US office for Venezuelan affairs from Bogotá, Maduro said that in this case it would be evident that in Washington “they hate and despise Venezuela because we are rebels.”
Biden announced Thursday that the United States will donate a first batch of 25 million doses and vowed to strengthen vaccination capacities in Central America, South America, Asia, Africa and other regions, where procurement of the drugs has been low.
“Not only do they persecute so that no one sells vaccines to Venezuela but also, when they can, they open their rotten hearts to show their misery and hatred against Venezuelans,” said Maduro, alluding to the US economic sanctions that seek to pressure him to let him leave power.
Maduro added that, if the supply schedule for the vaccines that Venezuela has purchased is met, despite the “persecution” of the United States government, in the month of October, face-to-face classes will resume.
Story, for his part, “flatly” denied the version that the United States “will not donate vaccines” to the country, noting that “We reiterate our will to solve the humanitarian crisis that Venezuela is facing, for which we have donated more than 1,200 million dollars” .
“Our approach is to help the people of Vzla (Venezuela) but there needs to be a transparent system to vaccinate. We constantly assess the situation for future donations. The US fully supports a solid vaccination effort that can reach all Venezuelan citizens ”, said the US diplomat on Thursday night via Twitter.
The Maduro government severed relations with Washington in 2019, claiming it is pushing for plans to destabilize his government and force its overthrow.
Last week, Caracas announced that it consigned the entire amount required to benefit from the COVAX mechanism at a time when it seeks to give a strong boost to its massive vaccination plan.
Through COVAX, a program created by the United Nations to facilitate equitable access to immunization, 11,374,400 doses of the vaccine basket it provides will reach the South American country. This represents 20% of those necessary to immunize the Venezuelan population, estimated at about 30 million people.
The Pan American Health Organization had previously said that Venezuela paid $ 101 million to insure COVAX vaccines and that $ 18 million remained to be canceled.
Venezuela began the first phase of vaccination on February 18, focusing on the health sector, security and education.
Venezuelan authorities claim that at least 90% of health sector workers were vaccinated, as well as several tens of thousands of volunteers who participate in government efforts to detect infections in home visits in the main population centers, but did not offer more details.
Maduro’s critics, including Douglas León Natera, president of the Venezuelan Medical Federation, maintain that among the around 500,000 workers in the health sector, only about 200,000 doses have been inoculated.
Since February 13, Venezuela has received several hundred thousand doses of the Russian Sputnik V vaccine, out of a total of 10 million agreed in December between Caracas and Moscow.
In addition, on March 1, Venezuela received 500,000 doses of Vero Cell, the vaccine developed by the Chinese state company Sinopharm, donated by the Asian giant. On May 23, Maduro announced the arrival of 1.3 million vaccines from China, without giving further details.
In Venezuela, where the coronavirus has not hit as hard as in other South American countries, there have been about 2,700 deaths and more than 236,000 positives, of which about 16,300 remain active, according to official data.