Fighting sars and sanctions: venezuela’s president nicolas maduro. Image: @presidencialven
Venezuela wants to pay for urgently needed vaccines with black gold. Preventing access to the real gold and money u.S. Sanctions – amid pandemic
Venezuela’s president nicolas maduro has launched an aid program that involves swapping erdol for corona vaccines. The reason for the initiative is also the harsh economic sanctions imposed by the usa against the south american country.
The oil industry – almost the only source of foreign currency for the venezuelan state – is being severely damaged by the ongoing punitive measures under us president joe biden. In addition, many western credit institutions refuse the maduro government access to their accounts and financial resources.
"Venezuela has the oltankers as well as interested parties for crude oil and has been using some of its production to buy the necessary vaccines", maduro said at his weekly press conference on the status of the fight against the pandemic.
However, the question is what capacity the country’s petroleum industry has left at all. Although the industry has recovered slightly recently, according to the organization of petroleum exporting countries (opec). According to the report, production is expected to increase to 487.000 barrels per day have risen. However, this is still a far cry from the more than three million barrels venezuela put on the market when maduro took office in 2013.
Maduro most recently promised to raise demand again this year to 1.5 million barrels per day. But experts expressed skepticism about whether this will be possible after seven years of recession and in light of u.S. Sanctions against the country.
According to the leftist leader, his government is trying to get the frozen funds released through the courts. This is necessary in order to have funds available for the vaccination and infection control campaign.
Second, his government is trying to obtain vaccines through the united nations covax system. This un distribution system aims to secure and distribute up to two billion doses of vaccine. The maduro government had recently managed to get seized funds at western banks to be used for measures against the pandemic via a trust administration.
Help from russia and china
According to the venezuelan leader, his government has access primarily to chinese and russian vaccines. Health minister carlos alvarado had written on twitter earlier in the week that an additional 50.000 dosen des impfstoffs sputnik v aus russland eingetroffen seien; so konne die laufende impfkampagne fortgesetzt werden.
Corona infections are also on the rise in venezuela, with an average of 765 new infections reported daily. The previous peak was recorded in mid-august last year. Since the start of the pandemic, there have been 155.663 infections and 1.555 pandemic-related fatalities. The figures come from venezuelan authorities.
The situation is particularly problematic in hospitals, which have been severely affected by the long-standing economic crisis and sanctions. Maduro did not give bed occupancy figures in his weekly press conferences recently. However, the spanish-language service of the british bbc mundo, citing hospital staff, reported an increase in inpatient treatment of covid 19 patients.
"The emergency room has collapsed. The 36 covid beds we have are constantly occupied", the bbc quotes maria eugenia landaeta, head of infectious diseases at caracas university hospital.
Given the impact of the pandemic in the countries of the global south, maduro also called on industrialized countries on monday to comprehensively restructure the external debt of lower-income countries.
At a un conference on the international debt architecture and the liquidity of developing and emerging countries, the head of state expressed his conviction that only the restructuring of debt will allow the economic recovery of the countries concerned. This is, after all, also a question of the political sovereignty of the over-indebted countries," he said. Maduro’s intervention was in line with demands from development organizations, which have been calling for years for debt relief for poor countries in order to break the vicious circle of debt service and underdevelopment.
Deaths from sanctions even before pandemic
This is also supported by an older calculation by the washington-based center for economic and policy research (cepr), according to which in venezuela from 2017 to 2019 about 40.000 people could have lost their lives as a result of u.S. Sanctions (u.S. Government attacks food supplies in venezuela).
"Even harsher and more destructive than the comprehensive economic sanctions imposed in august 2017 were the punitive sanctions imposed by government order since 28. January 2019 were imposed", writes the cepr. These sanctions had severely damaged the health of the venezuelan people (why u.S. Sanctions killed).
Citing figures from the cepr "national survey on living conditions", conducted by several universities in the south american country. According to the survey, overall mortality increased by 31 percent from 2017 to 2018. This was an increase of more than 40.000 death traps mean. "More than 300.000 people were deemed at risk due to lack of access to medication or treatment", it continues.
In addition, there were an estimated 80.000 people with hiv who have not received antiretroviral treatment since 2017, 16.000 people requiring dialysis, 16.000 people with cancer and four million people with diabetes and hypertension, many of whom do not receive insulin or antihypertensives.