Venezuela's Guaido allocates $30m for vaccines

·2-min read
Juan Guaido is still recognized as Venezuela's acting president by more than 50 countries although he holds no official position

Opposition leader Juan Guaido will allocate $30 million in Venezuelan state funds that are frozen in the United States towards vaccinations in his country.

Although he has had no formal role in Venezuela's branches of power since last year's legislative elections, Guaido is recognized as the country's acting president by more than 50 nations, including the US.

Washington has frozen millions of dollars of Venezuelan money kept in US bank accounts as part of international sanctions against Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro and many top figures in his government, handing control of the funds to Guaido.

Guaido -- who was speaker of Venezuela's parliament until the December elections -- and fellow senior opposition figures do not recognize the new legislature, and still lead the old parliament that was elected in 2015.

A decision made by the rogue legislature authorizes Guaido to participate in Covax, the global drive to ensure an equitable distribution of vaccines, and also authorizes funding for vaccine infrastructure.

The decision states the he is allowed "to request a debt from the Central Bank of Venezuela for a total of $30.3 million destined to pay for access to the Covax platform and for the investment in the cold chain necessary for the vaccination plan against Covid-19."

It also authorizes Guaido to take the "necessary" measures to request the money be released by the US Department of the Treasury.

Guaido, Maduro's government and the Pan-American Health Organization have agreed to work together to negotiate access to the global Covax initiative.

Through Covax, Venezuela has reserved between 1.4 million and 2.4 million doses of the AstraZeneca/Oxford vaccine, which has not been authorized by Maduro's government.

In February, the government started vaccinating health workers with the Russian Sputnik V vaccine and this month began also using the shot produced by Chinese pharmaceutical company Sinopharm.

The government has released few details about its vaccination program and the number of doses it has procured, although Maduro has claimed to be investing $200 million in it.

According to official figures, strongly questioned by the opposition and NGOs, Venezuela has registered just under 150,000 coronavirus cases and a little under 1,500 deaths.