Wash Your Hands, Stay Home

Chavismo takes full political advantage of the Coronavirus crisis; Aid comes from China, but there are no guarantees it’ll do any good; While the rest of the world guarantees public services and exempts taxes, the regime pushes harder.

Photo: Infobae, retrieved.
  • Delcy Rodríguez announced from Maiquetía the arrival of 4,000 test kits, medicine, reagents, biosafety gear, goggles, gloves and air purifiers for hospitals that have been donated by the Chinese government to contain the COVID-19 pandemic. She said they’ll open a permanent route between China and Venezuela to bring supplies and said that starting Saturday, March 12st, they’ll do mass sessions to rule out cases in areas at risk. 
  • Jorge Rodríguez announced that they have confirmed six new cases, for a total of 42 in the country. He said that four of those are in Miranda state and one in Maracaibo, at the west of the nation, highlighting that this person was in contact with patients in Cúcuta. According to Rodríguez, every patient is getting the proper care. He reiterated China’s donation, said they’ll be able to test 320,000 people with those 4,000 kits and that they’ll mainly focus in Miranda and the Capital District. He mentioned the case of a nurse in a Guatire hospital (Miranda state) and assured that the Health vice minister went to the health center and talked to her, and reported back that she has no fever and her test came out negative. It’s astounding how the minister gloats about the horrible contagion figures in other countries and he “celebrates” a doctor’s story about the collapse of health systems all around the world. 
  • Later, from Miraflores Palace, Delcy Rodríguez parroted the data her brother announced, and said that “Venezuela is fully stocked for this pandemic.” Nicolás, on the phone, said he had received a letter from the UN ratifying “the UN is ready to support the Venezuelan government in the COVID-19 pandemic”. Nicolás also parroted Jorge and Delcy’s data and highlighted all cases are imported (?). 
  • After several days of silence, Nicolás’s health minister said: “Not only do we have the medicine, we have the equipment and the diagnosis kits.” Nothing about the 42 cases or the risks they pose. 
  • Caretaker President Juan Guaidó announced new channels of medical information about coronavirus: the website coronavirusvenezuela.info; Twitter account @corona_virusven; Instagram account corona_virusven and Facebook: http://fb.com/coronavirusve
  • Julio Borges announced the launching of the #AuxilioParaVenezuela campaign, to find international support and medical supplies, and pressure the regime to allow humanitarian aid into the country. He demanded freedom for all political prisoners. 
  • Nurse Rubén Duarte, detained on Tuesday by military intelligence for denouncing the poor conditions of San Cristóbal Central Hospital, said that what he went through was worth it, because despite threats, the hospital received new equipment.
  • Newspaper La Verdad reported that the patient in Maracaibo is a 56-year-old man who had come from Spain and is in isolation at the University Hospital. Maracaibo mayor Willy Casanova prohibited public transport after this case was confirmed. 
  • Exiled deputy Rosmit Mantilla denounced that political prisoners are at risk because Coronavirus made its way to Venezuelan prisons: “There are at least four cases at El Helicoide. In a  matter of hours, we’ll be counting our dead if our political prisoners aren’t released.” 
  • The state allowed significant increases in fees of basic services like trash collection and phone service just when the economy is deteriorating even more because of the quarantine imposed to stop the pandemic and the drop of oil prices. In February, the fees for phone, internet, and mobile phone services increased by 80% to 749%, according to a report that the AN is making and Reuters obtained. 
  • While the world is being flexible regarding taxes, chavismo increased the tax unit by 2900% and announced there would be no extension for the Impuesto Sobre la Renta. Seniat wants companies to pay before March 31st despite the quarantine, its operational inability, management teams not having access to data or accounting software and that no bank will issue a cashier’s check. 
  • Europe already has over 100,000 confirmed cases. Deaths in Italy are 3,405 (427 more than Wednesday), which makes it the country with the highest death toll. Spain registered 169 new deaths, an increase of 30% of its total balance (767 deaths). President Emmanuel Macron announced they’d invest an extra 5 billion euros in ten years of research: “An effort we hadn’t had to do since the war.” France registered 108 deaths from Coronavirus in 24 hours, which is why it’s likely they’ll prolong confinement longer than the 15 days they initially decreed. 
  • The U.S. announced the use of chloroquine phosphate, a drug to fight malaria, as treatment for Coronavirus. Donald Trump said that it’d be available immediately. The treatment was approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), who clarified the statement and said they’d be conducting a long clinical trial. The U.S. already has 10,000 confirmed cases and over 150 deaths. 
  • There are already 120 cases and one death in Mexico, but the only measure the government has taken is prolonging Holy Week vacation from two to four weeks. 
  • The Nicaraguan dictatorship, after admitting they have their first cases, called for a public employee march using the motto “Love in the time of Coronavirus.”
  • In South America: Brazil closed its borders with every country but Uruguay. Colombia suspends foreign citizens’ entrance for 30 days, including layovers. Colombians abroad have until the end of the week to go back and those who do must go through mandatory quarantine. Panama will do the same. Peru reported its first death and 79 new cases (for a total of 234 cases). Ecuador reported 61 new cases (260 total) and the fourth death. Argentina confirmed 31 new cases, right before President Alberto Fernández announced mandatory quarantine until March 31st. 

Chavismo is campaigning, using this moment for propaganda. The risk is huge for a nation that is also amid a complex humanitarian emergency. Hunger will make people leave their homes, it will expose them to the virus, it will get them sick. And they know it. And they don’t care. Take care of yourself. Wash your hands. Stay home while you can.

Naky Soto

Naky gets called Naibet at home and at the bank. She coordinates training programs for an NGO. She collects moments and turns them into words. She has more stories than freckles.