Joining forces to overcome the pandemic in Venezuela

The World Health Organization recently declared the outbreak of a pandemic due to the new coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2), which causes the Covid-19 disease. The disease has serious health consequences.

We, as Venezuelans from various political, cultural and social backgrounds, agree in our concern at the enormous risks the country faces. For this reason, we come together to strongly urge all parties in the Venezuelan political conflict to build the indispensable political agreements that will allow us to receive much-needed support and coordinate the management of the pandemic. Today we advocate for the practice of politics as the way to build the common good, framed in humanitarian values. Thus, we want to emphasize that political actors have a duty towards their fellow citizens, who need their decisions and actions to be up to the coming emergency.

To face this pandemic, it is necessary to dedicate the best efforts of all, in addition to having resources at hand for the task that lies ahead of us. Today the availability of economic resources in the country has decreased due to mismanagement and diversion. Likewise, having access to the nation’s resources abroad, as well as international financing, is compromised both by the internal institutional political dispute and by the unilateral measures taken by external actors.

In this sense, we urge all parties in the Venezuelan political conflict to build the necessary political agreements that will allow us both to receiving the resources that are necessary to coordinate the management of the pandemic. To achieve these agreements, we promote sovereign solutions and reject any type of international actions, interference and / or pressures that keep us from negotiated and constitutional solutions to the Venezuelan conflict. We also reject solutions that violate Human Rights and democracy.

We propose to the leadership of the country’s entire political spectrum the following minimum measures that we deem are essential and must be urgently implemented:

1) Convene all political and social sectors and include them in the response to the emergency. We believe it is necessary to build agreements with as many sectors as possible, including political parties, social movements and organized sectors of the country, in order to build knowledge and coordinate all of society’s efforts to face the crisis. We specifically draw attention on the necessity to involve specialists in healthcare and related areas, scientific and academic institutions, in order to incorporate their expertise into developing strategies to tackle the pandemic and reduce the damage and suffering of the population. State security forces must serve these coordinated efforts and support them in managing the crisis. It is necessary to uphold transparency, accurate and regular information, and unrestricted access to official sources of information for all social media communicators. In this sense, we propose to establish a dynamic dialogue between the media, journalists and public authorities that guarantees the constitutional and legal right of citizens to information.

2) Achieve institutional agreements that allow the concerted request for international aid, with guarantees of joint and transparent management. The actors in the Venezuelan political conflict must, in a coordinated manner, request the international aid (technical and financial) necessary to face the health, economic and social crisis which the pandemic only exacerbates. Receiving this aid depends on the guarantee that the means thus provided be used in a neutral and relevant way and that their sole purpose is to protect the lives and health of the population. Aid management must be handled between national actors and representatives of international institutions, both vouching for transparency in the use of the means thus provided. The role of the United Nations Organization (UN) and its different agencies would be essential. Social control mechanisms must also be activated for the same purposes.

3) Implementation of economic and social support necessary to guaranteeing sustainability and respect for confinement and social distancing. To make sure confinement measures are taken and respected by the entire Venezuelan population, help must be given to ensure the viability of daily life. Making sure people do have access to food, health, medicines and public services (water, gas, electricity, internet, gasoline) is the only possible way to guarantee the strict practice of confinement. Otherwise, the population—especially the most vulnerable ones—will not be able to respect the sanitary measures and will be forced to produce what is necessary to satisfy their basic needs.

4) In accordance with the request of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Michelle Bachelet, we urgently request:

a) to apply the humanitarian exemptions attached to the general sanctions that affect the population. Thus, in an effective way, to authorize the swift and rigorous supply of equipment, medical material and of any other nature as long as the emergency lasts;

b) to consider releasing people deprived of liberty or grant humanitarian measures for minor crimes and political reasons to reduce the probability of contagion, in order to improve health conditions and avoid overcrowding in detention centers.

Only with everyone’s determination, but above all with the creation of conditions of transparency, trust, democratic and free exercise for all those whose action is necessary to handle the pandemic and its effects, will we be able to face it. The necessary measures must have as their main goal the protection of the population and the guarantee of all their rights—and in no way should they threaten these rights or democracy. We also make our own knowledge available to support crisis management actions and create solutions that will allow us to build and maintain the common good. The situation is serious, therefore, the necessary efforts are great. The call to carry them out is a call for common sense, humanity and mutual respect to build the well-being of all Venezuelans.

Caracas, April 1st 2020

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