Venezuela's Guaidó calls for coalition government to fight the coronavirus

Carmen Sesin

Venezuela’s opposition leader, Juan Guaidó, has called for the creation of a “national emergency government,” that includes members of the opposition as well as the ruling socialist party, to combat the spread of the coronavirus.

Through a video he posted on Twitter over the weekend, Guaidó explained the coalition government would be able to convince multilateral agencies to provide $1.2 billion in financing to address the outbreak.

Guaidó has been recognized by almost 60 countries, including the United States, as Venezuela’s rightful leader, after President Nicolás Maduro won a disputed re-election in 2018. Maduro was indicted in the U.S. last week on narcoterrorism charges.

The coalition would not include Maduro or other top government officials, some of whom were also indicted last week on similar drug trafficking charges. Guaidó did not reveal the names of the potential participants.

“It’s crucial that we attend to the country’s health emergency, to increase the number of hospital beds and ventilators, to provide (water) for hospitals,” Guaidó said. Some medical facilities in the country lack running water.

On Monday, during a virtual meeting of the UNESCO, or the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, Venezuela's minister for science and technology, Gabriela Jiménez, accused the U.S. of harming her country's ability to acquire food, medications and international help through its sanctions.

Maduro says Guaidó is a puppet of the U.S. and denies the U.S. charges of involvement in the drug trade.

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Guaidó said opponents of Maduro need to be realistic and be prepared to share power. As an incentive to those who still support Maduro, he said international financial institutions are prepared to support his power-sharing proposal with the $1.2 billion in loans to fight the pandemic. Guaidó added the loans would be used to directly assist Venezuelan families who would be harmed by the virus, as well as the economic shock from a collapse in oil prices.

The International Monetary Fund recently rejected a similar request by Maduro for a $5 billion loan. They said there was a lack of clarity among its 189 members on who is the legitimate leader of Venezuela – Maduro or Guaidó.

Last week, Maduro said he is willing to work with the opposition to address the coronavirus pandemic.

The United Nations said Venezuela could be one of the countries hardest hit by the coronavirus and designated it a country for priority attention. Venezuela’s failing health system has widespread shortages of medical supplies and lack of water and electricity.

Venezuela has reported 129 cases of the coronavirus and 3 deaths. The country remains under quarantine ordered by Maduro.

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