Venezuela says Guaido nixed deal to buy coronavirus vaccines, opposition denies
Lawyers for Venezuela's central bank on Thursday said opposition leader Juan Guaido rejected a proposed deal to buy coronavirus vaccines in Britain, an assertion the opposition dismissed as false. The lawyers said the bank - whose board was named by President Nicolas Maduro - requested the support of an ad-hoc central bank board appointed by Guaido to transfer $120 million in funds frozen in Britain to Gavi, an alliance seeking to improve poor countries' vaccine access.Reuters | Updated: 15-01-2021 02:21 IST | Created: 15-01-2021 02:11 IST
The lawyers said the bank - whose board was named by President Nicolas Maduro - requested the support of an ad-hoc central bank board appointed by Guaido to transfer $120 million in funds frozen in Britain to Gavi, an alliance seeking to improve poor countries' vaccine access. "Due to international sanctions the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic in Venezuela have worsened, and President Maduro's government has been unable to effect payment to Gavi to secure access to COVID-19 vaccines by any other means," the central bank's lawyers at Zaiwalla & Co said in a statement.
The opposition argues cutting off Maduro's access to the funds is justified because he would use the money for corrupt ends, rather than to help Venezuelans suffering a humanitarian crisis and economic collapse. Guaido is recognized by dozens of countries, including Britain, as Venezuela's rightful leader after Maduro's disputed 2018 re-election. The two sides are locked in a London court battle over which side can have access to over $1 billion worth of Venezuelan gold stored at the Bank of England.
"I want to highlight the false nature of the information released by the Maduro regime," wrote Miguel Pizarro, a representative of Guaido's interim government. "We reiterate our willingness to find solutions to address the crisis that Venezuelans suffer today." The Maduro-aligned central bank has previously sought to access the funds to help fight the impacts of the coronavirus. The opposition said in early January it had reached a deal to participate in COVAX, one of Gavi's facilities to provide vaccines, but did not provide details.
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