Guaido reiterates there are 200 cases while regime insists on “only” 77
By Carlos Camacho
CARACAS -- National Assembly President Juan Guaido reiterated on Monday that there are “close to 200” cases in Venezuela of the China virus known as the COVID 19 or “Corona virus”, while the Nicolas Maduro regime reiterated official figures from Sunday saying “only” 77 Venezuelans are infected.
Guaido, who claimed the mantle of interim President of Venezuela a year ago, said during a press conference that the figures for new cases came “from a ministry” within the Maduro regime.
Guaido also pointed out that 81% of hospitals don't even have soap.
At the same time, "Information" Minister Jorge Rodriguez reported that the country was going to start using chloroquine medication to treat the 77 cases. Rodriguez claimed that health officials and Cuban medical personnel had visited 18,365 people with symptoms and that Venezuela had 23,762 beds to handle cases throughout the country.
Rodriguez also reported that 135 were now being tested for coronavirus.
Meanwhile, Guaido also called on Venezuelans, once again, to rebel against Maduro saying “the time has come for us to rise”, just as Miami’s El Nuevo Herald published an analysis by British risk consultants IHS Markit claiming that the virus outbreak was weakening Maduro.
On Sunday, Maduro accused the U.S. of causing destabilization and a coup in Venezuela and asked the Armed Forces to remain alert.
El Nuevo Herald was also the first media outlet to publish Guaido’s figure of some 200 cases of the China virus in Venezuela.
Even more worryingly, Guaido linked a tragic weekend mass shooting in the 23 de Enero section of Caracas to “paramilitaries” affiliated with the Maduro regime. In the event, three man were shot and killed and two more seriously wounded when black-clad, masked and armed bikers told the victims to clear their domino game from the sidewalk and comply with Maduro’s quarantine, according to local media.
“Colectivos” and other militant groups linked to the Maduro Regime have taken to enforcing the quarantine measures by threatening perceived violators through bullhorns, often while riding on motorcycles, but 23 de Enero’s was the first shooting incident linked with the quarantine.
Even if government figures are true, the increase was of 38 times in the nine days since the first two virus cases were announced, a growth rate faster than that of Italy, in the middle of an ongoing humanitarian crisis.
Guaido reiterated that more than 80% of the country is without running water and that gasoline -- which was once abundantly and cheaply produced here -- is nowhere to be found and must be imported because “the (Maduro) regime destroyed the refineries.”
Guaido also appealed, again, to the Armed Forces, telling them “you cannot be accomplices in this time of emergency, it is time to leave hubris aside” and end your support for the Regime. Thousands of members of the military have already left the country.
Maduro has used the outbreak to increase repression and make his appearances even more sporadic, now showing up every three days or so, often just by phone-ins to friendly TV shows.
Maduro has used the crisis as an opportunity to incarcerate doctors, lawmakers and journalists who protest and/or inform about the situation around the virus.
Short of gasoline, Maduro has used the virus as an excuse to severely ration gasoline with gas stations now fully under the control of the military, which only sell to police, other military and/or doctors affiliated with the government.