The new US hope for replacing the president of Venezuela: coronavirus




The new US hope for replacing the president of Venezuela: coronavirus

Mery Mogollon, Tracy Wilkinson and Patrick J. McDonnell, Los Angeles Times on Published in News & Features

Of 45,000 beds nationwide in 245 hospitals, no more than 20% are functioning, said Pablo Zambrano, general secretary the Federation of Health Workers.

“The health system is very vulnerable, with many problems and errors that have not been corrected,” Zambrano said.

“There’s a lack of supplies, medicines, ambulances, the hospitals don’t have working elevators, and suffer from deteriorated infrastructure and broken equipment,” he said. “We as doctors, paramedics, helpers, do not have the resources needed to confront this crisis and give adequate attention to protect people’s heath.”

Like other Venezuelans, health workers often walk long distances to work because of a lack of gasoline and reduced public transit. Some health professionals have been using homemade masks stitched from cotton clothing and other material.

“But these masks have a usage period of only three days,” Zambrano said. “How can we make more?”

Maduro, who ordered a 30-day stay-at-home order, with shoppers for food and medicines only allowed out in daylight hours, said the country is “prepared” for the crisis — an assertion disputed by the opposition.

“The truth is that the Venezuelan state does not have the capacity to respond to this pandemic,” Guaido said in Caracas in a video message this month.

Reacting to the indictments, the opposition leader said he hoped the charges would “help free the country from the criminal system that has hijacked our country for so many years.

“Our problem is not just a political problem: We are facing a cartel, the Maduro Cartel,” Guaido said.

The indictments handed down Thursday charge Maduro with sponsoring a vast criminal enterprise that shipped cocaine to the United States and supplied Colombian rebels — whom Washington has designated as terrorists — with military-grade weapons.

If there were anything that could force the Venezuelan government of President Nicolas Maduro and his opposition to work together, it might have been the coronavirus.

With the pandemic closing in on a country woefully ill-prepared to confront it, the president’s opponents had begun to test the waters of negotiating with him, with the hope that cooperation on a plan to fight the virus might lead to wider political agreement or eventually even new elections.

But this past week, the United States torpedoed that possibility by indicting Maduro and 14 of his top associates on drug-trafficking and related charges. With criminal accusations and the equivalent of an arrest warrant hanging over this head, Maduro will likely be less willing than ever to make concessions.

“This (the indictments) closes the door on any kind of negotiation … now and forever,” said Fernando Cuitz, who worked on Latin American issues for the Trump administration but is now an advisor to the presidential campaign of Joe Biden.


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