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Mike Pompeo: “Assistance to Venezuela is not prohibited, but the best help would be to resume democracy”

The Secretary of State of the United States, Mike Pompeo, offered this Tuesday a conference call with media from the Western Hemisphere –Infobae among them – to detail the efforts of the Donald Trump administration to deal with the Covid-19 pandemic, the disease caused by the new coronavirus, at the regional level.

Sending humanitarian aid to different countries was the main theme. And predictably the focus was on Venezuela, whose health infrastructure is already in a state of collapse even before facing the peak of the pandemic product of the political, economic and humanitarian crisis that it has been going through for years.

Pompeo remarked that the United States has already sent resources to mitigate the impact of the pandemic – he contributed, for example, to a shipment of 90 tons shipped by the UN last week- and said that They have taken precautions to prevent them from falling into the hands of the Nicolás Maduro regime, which, he assured, would rob them. He indicated that for this it is not necessary to lift the numerous sanctions imposed, since humanitarian aid is exempt from its scope. But he stressed that, in any case, “the best help would be to resume the conditions for democracy to recover”.

“Assistance has always been and will be available to the Venezuelan people. But the greatest help would be to resume the conditions for democracy to recover, “he said from Washington. Regarding material resources, Pompeo explained that the Government has sent USD 9 million to the Caribbean country on Tuesday..

“The agencies we trust, like the UN and the Red Cross, they are going to convert that money and those resources into assistance and distribute it in the field. President (interim Juan) Guaidó is convinced that we can do it, “he added.

The money will go to the agencies that will use it and not steal it like Maduro and his henchmen would.“He expressed. And he indicated that to avoid this outcome the efforts will be “very cautious”.

Regarding the regime, he said that their only link will be “allow agencies to receive that help”. And he reiterated his call for Maduro to leave power: “You have to go and we have offered a plan“He said, referring to the initiative presented by the Government that contemplates the installation of a transitional government made up of members of the regime and the opposition – which does not include him or Guaidó – and whose objective is to restore republican institutions and call for transparent elections.

Pompeo remarked in turn that the acute limitations of the Venezuelan health infrastructure to respond to the advance of the pandemic are, in their vast majority, a consequence of the “deprivations of the regime” that have reduced the economy of the oil country by two thirds. “In Venezuela there is a man-made disaster that is exacerbated by the virus“, graphic.

As reported The New York Times, around half of the country’s doctors – that is, about 30,000 professionals – have left in recent years. And those who remain face multiple challenges even before they come to treat patients.

Fuel shortage in Venezuela is making it difficult for doctors to get to their jobs and leaving them stuck in huge lines to load gasoline. Despite the fact that the authorities have promised doctors and other workers in the sector preferential access at the stations, health professionals often queue from midnight to fill their tanks, and sometimes they do not succeed despite the hours of waiting.

Already in hospitals, deficiencies multiply. José Félix Oletta, former Minister of Health, said to the AFP In March, only 35 percent of the country’s hospitals had running water, and 90 percent then lacked a protocol for the coronavirus, according to a survey by the NGO Health Doctors.

Oletta estimated that in a “moderate, mild” scenario, the country would see between 1,000 and 1,500 hospitalizations. However, among the 46 hospitals that the regime ordered to combat the pandemic, there are 206 intensive care beds..

Jan Egeland, secretary-general of the Norwegian Refugee Council, equated Venezuela with Syria and Yemen and is forecasting a disaster. “There will also be a carnage when the virus reaches regions of Syria, Yemen and Venezuela where hospitals have been destroyed and health systems have collapsed.“, He said.

However, it is difficult to quantify the impact of the pandemic in the country. Not only due to the inability of citizens to access care, but also due to the lack of transparency of the regime in providing figures. As of Tuesday afternoon (local time), 189 positive cases and nine deaths have been reported.

The regime reported the first positive case in the Caribbean country on March 13. Since then, the figures in the daily balances have been increasing drop by drop. And beyond the structural crisis and the consequent ruin of the country’s health system, the regime claims to have the pandemic under control.

“For the first time the curves cross, we have more cases recovered than positive cases,” reported the sector vice president for Communication, Culture and Tourism, Jorge Rodríguez.

China and Iran, also accused of manipulating figures, are almost the only two countries with thousands of cases that claim to have been able to invest the number of recoveries with active cases. Germany was only able to do so in recent days.

The recovery rate also raises questions. Despite the collapse of the system, the regime assured that the percentage of patients discharged is 53%, almost eight times higher than that of Colombia (7%) and 66 times higher than that of Brazil. So does the amount of diagnostic tests that it claims to have done in the population.

According to the same figures, in Venezuela 6,377 tests have been carried out per million inhabitant, an amount equivalent to about 25 thousand tests per day. In comparison, the UK took several weeks to raise the daily number of diagnoses to more than 10,000, and its total goal is to reach 20,000 per day, a goal that it has not yet reached.

According to a portal report Cocuyo effect, Venezuela it has a laboratory to carry out the tests, while Chile has 49 and Colombia with 40. These sites are necessary for the most accurate PCR diagnoses. Instead, the majority of tests that were donated by China are considered “fast”. These are recommended by the WHO only for follow-up but not for confirmation, because they can give false positives or false negatives.

However, the figures contrast with a UN report. Published at the end of March, it indicated that 1,779 tests had been carried out, about 99 daily and about 56 per million inhabitants, one of the lowest diagnostic rates in the world. Taking this figure into account, the number of daily tests that should have been carried out since then would be extremely high..

Regarding the proportional figures for fatalities, the reported differences also contrast with the rest of the region. The ministry ensures that it stands at 0.3 deaths per million inhabitants, by far the lowest figure on the continent: Brazil reports around 5.9 deaths per million; Chile marks 4.3; Ecuador, 19.5; and Argentina, 2.1.

On April 11, Maduro extended the state of alarm decreed on March 13 for 30 days, a decision that involves prolonging a national quarantine that, for a majority of the population, exacerbates the already high food risks.

According to a survey by the World Food Program (WFP), dependent on the United Nations (UN), one in three people in Venezuela he already had difficulties in bringing food to the table and consuming the necessary nutritional minimums. The figure represents a total of 9.3 million people suffering from what is known as moderate or severe “food insecurity”.

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