Outgoing Brazilian Foreign Minister May Have Obstructed Venezuela’s Humanitarian Oxygen Shipments

The Brazilian state of Amapá is one of the most affected by the ravages of COVID-19, in the midst of the worst phase of the pandemic that the South American country is experiencing. Venezuela is willing to send crucial oxygen reserves to Amapá but a common complaint from several Brazilian officials warned that  outgoing Brazilian Foreign Minister Ernesto Araújo, who resigned from his post on Monday, had put obstacles in the way of the shipments of oxygen offered by Venezuela.

Senator Randolfe Rodrigues said: “If someone dies from lack of oxygen in Amapá, it is Ernesto Araújo’s fault” The statement of the parliamentarian revolves around the refusal of the Brazilian Foreign Ministry to respond to the help offered by the Venezuelan government regarding the oxygen cylinders awaiting in Puerto Ordaz, Bolívar state, from where they would be sent to Amapá.

According to Randolfe, the Brazilian Ministry of Foreign Affairs would only have to approve the dispatch of a plane to access 20,000 cubic meters of oxygen, enough to supply the state of Amapá for 18 days.

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Randolfe denounced the Itamaraty Palace [headquarters of Brazil’s Foreign Affairs Ministry] for refusing the aid from Venezuela because it does not recognize the legitimate President Nicolás Maduro, making clear that the Bolsonaro government puts political concerns above the health of its people.

Brazilian local news, additionally, pointed to Araujo’s resignation as a result of the terrible vaccine crisis that has left the country without a mass vaccination plan and —most importantly—without vaccines. This comes at a time when the mainstream media is reporting, due to investigations made by the news outlet Brasil Wire, that the United Stated pressured Brazil not to purchase the Russian Sputnik V vaccine.

Venezuela reiterates its support
Regarding this situation, the Foreign Minister of Venezuela, Jorge Arreaza indicated last Sunday that Venezuela sets aside “any difference with the government of Brazil,” and awaits coordination with the Brazilian authorities for the immediate transfer of oxygen to Amapá, with the purpose of collaborating in the fight against the pandemic in the Amazonian country that is experiencing a healthcare collapse, and has become a regional health threat. This occurs amid a spike of the pandemic in Venezuela, due to the arrival of the Brazilian variants.

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The shortage of oxygen and medicines for those infected by the virus threatens to aggravate the healthcare collapse that Brazil is already experiencing. The crisis is aggravated by a lack of beds in Intensive Care Units faced with a growing number of admissions.

On January 18, the Venezuelan government sent a first caravan of six trucks loaded with 136,000 liters—equivalent to 14,000 individual oxygen cylinders—to Manaus, capital of the Brazilian Amazon. This was after a critical situation arose in hospitals, due to the pandemic, in this city of 2.2 million inhabitants on the border with Venezuela. Then on February 13, another oxygen shipment was sent to the Brazilian states of Amazonas and Roraima.

Every day Brazil’s number of total infections grows. According to official reports, about three thousand Brazilians are perishing each day last week. Brazil has surpassed 312,000 deceased since the pandemic began.

 

 

Featured image: An unprecedented humanitarian health crisis due to COVID-19 is affecting Brazil, creating oxygen scarcity. Venezuela has helped alleviate the crisis in northern Brazilian states bordering Venezuela. File photo.

(RedRadioVE) by Daniela Jimenez, with Orinoco Tribune content

Translation: Orinoco Tribune

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