U.S. Sanctions Block COVID-19 Vaccines For Venezuela

The U.S. economic blockade on Venezuela continues to have devastating effects on the Venezuelan people with payments for COVID-19 vaccines through the COVAX mechanism now frozen.

The Venezuelan government had paid $110 million to COVAX—nearly the full sum of $120 million U.S. dollars—with only four more payments, which would total $10 million, remaining.

The payments made by the Venezuelan government were blocked by the bank at which the funds were held, UBS, before funds could reach their destination. Freezing Venezuelan accounts is common among foreign banks looking to avoid U.S. sanctions which take aim at any entity which chooses to do business with the Venezuelan government, including the most common types of transactions.

“They want to tell us that they are the powerful ones, that the financial system, that has the U.S. lobby behind it, has the power to block resources which are set aside to vaccinate the Venezuelan population,” said Vice President Delcy Rodriguez in a televised address to the nation on Thursday.

COVAX official, Santiago Cornejo, informed Venezuela’s Ambassador to Geneva in a letter stating that they had been notified by UBS that the four payments had been blocked and are under investigation. 

Cornejo thanked the “collaboration and efforts of the government of Venezuela in formalizing the agreement with the COVAX Mechanism and for complying with the financial requirements”. The letter also confirms that they have received 12 payments totaling $110 million U.S. dollars. 

Amid the denial of vaccines for the Venezuelan people, the United States government is currently boasting about what the State Department’s Jake Sullivan deemed the “largest-ever donation of COVID-19 vaccines by a single country.”

Failed coup leader, Juan Guaido, had hoped to use the situation presented by COVID-19 for political gain by pursuing the possibility of freeing up Venezuelan funds frozen in the United States, due to sanctions, in order to make a vaccine purchase. Guaido tried to bait President Nicolas Maduro with the prospect of acquiring funds for vaccines with the condition of political concessions for from the government. The government rejected the blackmail and proceeded to pay with other funds. 

Despite this setback, Venezuela vows to carry onward with its vaccination campaign, in defiance of the obstacles placed by the illegal U.S. blockade.  

“Despite the intensification of the imperial blockade, the Bolivarian Government of President Nicolas Maduro continues working and adds efforts to guarantee the supply of anti-Covid vaccines for the Mass Immunization Plan of our people. Sanctions are a crime!” stated Vice President Rodriguez.