Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro during a video conference meeting with members of his cabinet on June 1 2020. Picture: AFP/VENEZUELAN PRESIDENCY/JHON ZERPA
Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro during a video conference meeting with members of his cabinet on June 1 2020. Picture: AFP/VENEZUELAN PRESIDENCY/JHON ZERPA

Caracas — The government of Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro and opposition leader Juan Guaidó have reached an agreement to co-operate to raise funds for the fight against the coronavirus, they said Tuesday.

With help from the Pan American Health Organisation (PAHO), the two sides will co-ordinate efforts to seek financial resources to combat the Covid-19 pandemic, according to the agreement read on state television by communications minister Jorge Rodríquez.

Earlier, Guaidó’s communications team also said that a “technical co-operation plan to deal with the humanitarian coronavirus crisis” had been signed.

Relations between the bitter rivals have been very tense, with Guaidó recognised as interim president by dozens of countries, including the US, after 2018 elections he says were rigged.

The agreement, signed on Monday in Caracas, establishes “priority” measures for dealing with the pandemic, including detection of active Covid-19 cases, epidemiological monitoring and timely treatment of those infected.

The two sides have so far not confirmed an estimate for the plan and precise details.

In a statement, however, Guaidó’s team said the PAHO would receive funds approved for humanitarian aid, assuring that the agreement allows money for the emergency to be put in the hands of international organisations rather than the Maduro government.

The agreement was signed by health minister Carlos Alvarado, parliamentary delegate Julio Castro and a PAHO representative.

Washington welcomed the agreement. “It is an important step, but only democratic transition will save Venezuela from catastrophe,” the closed US embassy in Caracas posted on Twitter.

The White House has imposed financial sanctions on the country to press for Maduro’s departure.

Venezuela officially has 1,819 Covid-19 cases and 18 deaths but international organisations, such as Human Rights Watch, believe this is an underestimate and the real toll is much higher.

The pandemic hit Venezuela when the country was already reeling from a serious economic crisis, hyperinflation and a collapse of public services. Falling crude prices have only exacerbated the situation in the oil-dependent nation.

The economic meltdown has seen about 5-million Venezuelans flee the country since 2015, according to the UN.

AFP