US & European Blockade Against Venezuelans
In an official communication issued on June 7, the COVAX initiative notified the Government of Venezuela that UBS bank (United Bank Switzerland) blocked and put “under investigation” the last four payments made by Venezuela to complete the financial requirements for COVID-19 vaccines. This news was reported to the nation this Wednesday, June 10, by the Executive Vice President of the Republic, Delcy Rodríguez, during an international academic conference entitled “Unilateral Coercive Measures: Disrespect of International Law and Grave Human Consequences.”
Rodríguez stated that the letter, addressed to the Venezuelan ambassador in Geneva, Héctor Constant Rosales, by Santiago Cornejo from COVAX, specified that the final four payments were blocked. Prior to these payments, issued since April 13, 2021, Venezuela had already issued a total of over $109 million to the COVAX mechanism.
The first of the transactions held by UBS was made on April 21, for $2,487,321. The second was made on May 6, for $376,075. The third payment being arbitrarily investigated was of $552,034, also issued on May 6, and the final transfer, on May 18, was for $1,190,000.
“Venezuela, with great sacrifice, managed to pay the fee of $120 million needed to have access to a batch of vaccines to immunize a significant percentage of our population,” said the senior official at the beginning of her presentation.
In her opinion, the events concerning UBS constitute “a practical example of what these grotesque and criminal coercive measures mean.” They also revealed, once again, the biased efforts to help countries overcome the COVID-19 pandemic.
No one can be saved in isolation
In Rodríguez’s opinion, the bank is sending a message “that we are powerful, the financial system, backed by the US lobby; it has the power to block resources [unequivocally intended] to immunize the population of Venezuela.”
“Now, the question that we have asked, in the words of President Nicolás Maduro, is: by immunizing only the peoples of ten [rich] countries, can we overcome this pandemic? Scientists have already answered that it is impossible,” confirmed Rodríguez. “Not only are we not going to overcome it, but more terrible situations can occur if this process unfolds unevenly, as is happening.”
One more crime!
Minutes later, the Foreign Minister of Venezuela, Jorge Arreaza, confirmed the information via Twitter, sharing the communication sent to the Venezuelan Executive by COVAX. The head of Bolivarian diplomacy assured that the action was carried out “arbitrarily” and constitutes “a crime.”
Last Sunday, President Nicolás Maduro warned that the United Nations COVAX mechanism was indebted to Venezuela. The statement was made after the Bolivarian Republic fulfilled its monetary commitments to obtain millions of vaccines, from different manufacturers and in various shipments.
“Venezuela has deposited the money,” said Maduro in his customary Sunday address. “Tomorrow, Monday, the executive vice president will take a series of steps and report, because the COVAX System has a debt to Venezuela… Venezuela has deposited the resources since April and the system has to comply with us.”
He added that the “technical details have already been agreed to between the parties and we have approved the vaccines that can enter Venezuela. In July and August they must ensure several million vaccines.”
Venezuela will receive Johnson & Johnson and NOVAVAX
Cornejo’s letter informing the Executive about the UBS decision to block four Venezuelan payments to the COVAX Fund did state, however, that in exchange for the money already received, the first allocation of vaccines will be sent to Venezuela in the coming weeks. It will consist of the Johnson & Johnson and NOVAVAX vaccines, two brands for which Venezuela had expressed interest, among the ones offered by the United Nations mechanism.
“We hope that this confirmation will allow you to take the necessary steps to finalize the four pending transactions and the total balance,” concluded the COVAX letter.