Venezuelan dictator Nicolás Maduro demanded a $5 billion loan from the International Monetary Fund (IMF), an institution he has long reviled, on Tuesday to help fight the Chinese coronavirus pandemic.
The pandemic, which has officially hit Venezuela’s shores, threatens to wreak havoc on a socialist nation that is already in the midst of a dire humanitarian crisis.
In a letter posted on Foreign Minister Jorge Arreaza’s Twitter account Tuesday, Maduro pleaded with the institution, which he bizarrely referred to as an “honorable organism,” to dispense an emergency loan. He has previously described the organization as a bloodsucking “assassin” responsible for forcing millions of Latin Americans into dire poverty.
“The Bolivarian government has been executing different highly comprehensive, strict and exhaustive prevention and control measures,” wrote Maduro. “That is why, we come up to your Honorable organism to request your evaluation, regarding the possibility of granting Venezuela a financing facility of USD 5,000 million from the emergency fund of the Rapid Financing Instrument (RFI).”
President @NicolasMaduro has formally requested financing for $5 billion to the International Monetary Fund to strengthen the response capacity of our health system during the #COVIDー19 contingency. Another timely action to protect the people. pic.twitter.com/C1itAiIoks
— Jorge Arreaza M (@jaarreaza) March 17, 2020
As its largest shareholder, the United States has the power to veto any IMF loan. The request was therefore immediately rejected by the body, which already cut off its relationship with the Maduro regime last year over the fact it is an illegitimate dictatorship.
“Unfortunately, the Fund is not in a position to consider this request. As we have mentioned before, IMF engagement with member countries is predicated on official government recognition by the international community, as reflected in the IMF’s membership,” a spokesperson said in a statement. “There is no clarity on recognition at this time.”
Since Maduro took the final steps to transform Venezuela into a Cuban-style communist dictatorship, the Trump administration has imposed multiple rounds of sanctions that have further weakened the country’s collapsed economy. The measures have failed to remove the socialist regime from power, mainly because it retains the support of other authoritarian states such as China and Russia.
There are major concerns that the country’s crippled healthcare system will be unable to cope under the strain of mass infections. Venezuelan hospitals have for years suffered from chronic shortages of essential resources such as antibiotics and basic sanitary products required to deal with health epidemic. In 2017, leading national newspaper El Nacional even described the situation as a “Health Holocaust.”
The request for an emergency loan indicates that the regime’s extreme level of concern over a mass outbreak, with Maduro warning this weekend that people must either go into quarantine or face a “pandemic could brutally and tragically bring down our country.”
On Monday, Maduro announced a “nationwide quarantine” after many people defied initial orders and went to work anyway for fear of not getting paid. He described it as “an unavoidable and necessary measure to stop the spread of the Chinese coronavirus.”