Venezuela: Bolivarian Revolution stopping COVID-19 in its tracks

April 28, 2020
Chavista grassroots organisations mobilise amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Photo: Maureen Riveras/CUSAC

At the time of writing, 37 days after the start of quarantine in Venezuela, the world has experienced some 2,478,634 cases of COVID-19 and 170,389 deaths (6.87%).

The countries most affected are the United States, Spain, Italy, Germany, Britain, France, Turkey, Iran, China and Russia.

In Venezuela, up to April 22, from 285 cases, some 117 people have recovered and 10 people have died. There are 158 active cases, which are being properly treated under rigorous medical conditions. This has allowed the pandemic to be controlled in Venezuela.

What have been the reasons for the achievement of a minimum level of spread of COVID-19? How has the Bolivarian government achieved this?

1. From the first sign of the appearance of cases in Venezuela, the government announced measures to control the spread of COVID-19: All public meetings were suspended; education at all levels was suspended; non-essential activities were suspended; all commercial activities were suspended; and only supermarkets and pharmacies were open.

2. The government educated people on how to stop the spread of the virus and to always wash their hands with soap after going out.

3. They imposed limits on travellers entering the country and installed border control measures.

4. Compulsory use of masks and social distancing was established and social gatherings of any type were prohibited.

5. The government immediately established a high-level Commission to give daily reports on the national situation.

6. The National Bolivarian Armed Forces were mobilised to assist with sanitation

7. A process for testing and tracking down known cases of infection was initiated.

8. An internet poll was set up through the Patria system, to record the health symptoms in the population. More than 18 million people responded to this poll.

9. The government declared a month-long quarantine, which was extended for another month, and which is still in operation today.

10. Anyone with COVID-19 is immediately attended to in their own home.

Links by air have been established with the People’s Republic of China and Russia, and Venezuela has received help from medical brigades from China and Cuba.

Despite the government’s control over the situation, there have been four significant cases of COVID-19 detected in Venezuela, categorised as “super-spreader” events. These were the result of the irresponsibility of individuals.

There was a party held in Los Roques, just after the quarantine started, which led to COVID-19 cases appearing the state of Barinas.

In Altamira, [a wealthy suburb of Caracas], two people who knew they were contagious went to an exclusive party of young, rich people, even though the quarantine was in full swing.

An executive from the Polar company [a major beverage corporation] arrived in Venezuela from the US, but did not notify the authorities that he was contagious. He infected other executives, as well as his security personnel who live in densely-populated, poor neighbourhoods.

Three executives from a Baseball School in Nueva Esparta (Margarita Island), returning from the Dominican Republic, did not notify authorities that they had been overseas and should have been tested. They went directly to the school, contaminating a large group, among them young athletes and personnel, violating the quarantine.

All these incidents, especially the last two, have the potential of spreading the disease afar. Today, authorities are tracking where these “super-spreaders” have been and who they were in contact with.

All these cases have something in common. They involve rich people, who believe they are above the government, above the norm, above other people.

They assume they are exempted from any obligations, are arrogant, lazy, and don’t think about the consequences of their irresponsible actions.

While we are all watching the border, where many Venezuelans, who have been discriminated against abroad, arrive on foot, are tested and spend days in quarantine in refuges, we are not watching these irresponsible individuals.

These “super-spreader” cases are now under control and those responsible are subject to court orders because of their irresponsible acts and for ignoring the quarantine.

It only emphasises the fact that the great majority of the population has accepted all the conditions that the government has established to control COVID-19.

Venezuela has, until now, suppressed COVID-19, thanks to the team comprising the government, the people and the Venezuelan army.

Due to taking strict and rigorous control, it could be said that Venezuela has won, despite being subjected to the most inhuman, economic sanctions imposed by the US and their European allies.

These countries continue to conspire with the internal Venezuelan opposition to overthrow the legitimate government of Nicolás Maduro.

[Nelson Dávila is a former Venezuelan ambassador to Australia.]

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