Venezuela's Maduro joins hands with Guaido in fight against virus

President Maduro and his bitter rival Guaido agree to coordinate efforts to raise funds to help combat the pandemic.

The government of Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro and opposition leader Juan Guaido have reached an agreement to cooperate to raise funds for the fight against the coronavirus. 

The one-page agreement was signed on June 1 between Health Minister Carlos Alvarado, Dr Julio Castro, who leads the National Assembly’s commission on the coronavirus, and the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO), Information Minister Jorge Rodriguez said on Tuesday.

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The parties will seek funds to cover a range of responses from improving testing, acquiring more protective gear and launching public health messaging campaigns, among others, Rodriguez added.

“COVID-19 does not respect or discriminate against gender, orientation or political party,” Rodriguez said on state television on Tuesday night. “So this is good news, a good start, so that we can deepen our work together to combat COVID-19.”

Guaido’s communications team also said a “technical cooperation plan to deal with the humanitarian coronavirus crisis” was signed.

Luego de meses de insistencia y lucha, logramos que la OPS reciba la donación aprobada por la AN para atender la pandemia en Venezuela.

Nuestra política se centra en salvar vidas, en atender la emergencia y salir de la dictadura.

Urge el Gobierno de Emergencia Nacional. https://t.co/4QHmH34psf

Translation: After months of insistence and struggle, we [finally] managed to get PAHO to receive the donations approved by the National Assembly to address the pandemic in Venezuela. Our policy is focused on saving lives, attending to the emergency and getting out of the dictatorship. 

The two sides have so far not confirmed the details of the plan.

In a statement, however, Guaido’s team said PAHO would receive the funds approved for humanitarian aid.

Separately, Washington welcomed the coronavirus agreement.

“It is an important step, but only democratic transition will save Venezuela from catastrophe,” the closed US embassy in Caracas posted on Twitter.

Gobierno Interino de @JGuaido firmó acuerdo con la OPS de asociación coordinada con el régimen para enfrentar el #COVID19, priorizando necesidades urgentes de atención médica de venezolanos. Es un paso importante, pero solo transición democrática salvará Venezuela de catástrofe https://t.co/GdcmWdTJRa

Translation: Interim Government of @JGuaido signed an agreement with PAHO for a coordinated association with the regime to combat #COVID19, prioritising urgent medical care needs for Venezuelans. It is an important step, but only democratic transition will save Venezuela from catastrophe

The White House has imposed financial sanctions on the country to press for Maduro’s departure.

Venezuela officially has 1,819 reported COVID-19 cases and 18 related deaths but international organisations such as Human Rights Watch believe this is an underestimate and the real toll is much higher.

The pandemic hit Venezuela when the country was already reeling from a serious economic crisis, hyperinflation and a collapse of public services. 

The country has the largest oil reserves in the world, but its production is in freefall, a collapse that experts attribute to failed policies, lack of investment, and corruption.

The economic meltdown has seen about five million Venezuelans flee the country since 2015, according to the United Nations.

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