Venezuela received the first batch of 100,000 Russian Sputnik V vaccines over the weekend to face the coronavirus pandemic and the president, Nicolás Maduro, announced the launch of a vaccination process starting this Thursday for medical personnel and Chavista militants that, he affirmed, they will be “protecting the people in the streets.” Vaccination priorities will also include members of the Bolivarian apparatus: military personnel and senior government officials, members of the official party, governors, mayors and police. This announcement has generated irritation among many civilians and opposition politicians.
Maduro assured in a press conference that he does not rule out the idea of agreeing to private purchases to distribute the vaccine through alternative channels to the official one and added that he expects a massive vaccination process to begin in Venezuela in April. “We have approved the Sputnik V vaccine because our scientific studies have proven its complete safety.” He added that both he and his wife, Cilia Flores, will be vaccinated “when possible.”
Julio Castro, an epidemiologist and internist, known in the country for being one of the most authorized spokespersons in the analysis of the evolution of the pandemic, reported that the resources to pay for the first part of the vaccines, under the Covax mechanism of the Organization Panamericana de la Salud, should be available “from four to six weeks.” There is a preliminary agreement that has been carried out with great discretion by opposition leaders close to Juan Guaidó and members of the Chavista government to facilitate the arrival of drugs, regardless of the serious differences between the two currents. Maduro commented in this regard: “We gave everything we have to give and we are only waiting for them to release the 300 million dollars from the Bank of England to buy the vaccines.”
The Venezuelan president offered these statements at a press conference from the Miraflores Palace, in which he referred to other issues related to the Venezuelan political, economic and immigration crisis, and to some controversial situations related to his presence in power. Among other things, Maduro affirmed that he does not care that the European Union does not recognize his government and privileges his contact with Juan Guaidó despite having stopped recognizing him as president. “From the bottom of my heart: we don’t care what they say from the European Union. These are the Venezuelan institutions, we are above false recognitions (…) We have embassies and consulates in Europe that are a starting point for dialogue ”.
He also said that he is still waiting for signals from the new US Administration of Joe Biden to initiate a political dialogue based on “mutual respect.” Asked about the recent announcement made by the president of Colombia, Iván Duque, regarding the granting of temporary protected status to 1.7 million Venezuelans who have entered that nation in the last four years, Maduro described the measure as “ a fraud”. “Six million Colombians live in Venezuela who enjoy full rights. They have been welcomed, they have a job, access to health care and they have never needed that clown. Duque makes those ads to wash his face because he is the main aggressor in Venezuela. “
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