hen a solemn minute of silence for the more than three million deaths that the coronavirus has claimed in the world, the Ibero-American countries held a historic summit yesterday. In the small Andorran town of Soldeu, surrounded by ski resorts and snow-capped peaks, they met in blended format Heads of State and Government to address the serious health emergency that is devouring, above all, Latin America. The message was clear: support without fissures an equitable distribution of vaccines so that they can also reach the most disadvantaged and chart the path of an inclusive recovery.
Andorra, as host country, inaugurated a meeting that was scheduled for last November but decided to postpone it to April, hoping that by then all the leaders could attend. It could not be. Yesterday, the only ones who posed in the family photo, distance and with masks, were the presidents of Guatemala and the Dominican Republic, as the headquarters of the previous and the next summit, as well as the heads of Government of the Principality, Portugal and Spain, also represented by the King, Felipe VI. The rest of the leaders, except for six who chose not to participate, intervened electronically.
The Ibero-American Summit, which in its 27th edition has commemorated its three decades of history, became a debate that revolved around the need for vaccines to reach the most disadvantaged, as is the case in Latin America, where the Covax mechanism promoted by the World Health Organization (WHO) has barely delivered three million doses in a region with more than 600 million inhabitants. This situation has caused great anger in the leaders of the area when noting the great inequalities with respect to the more developed states.
«The covid-19 pandemic will mark the history of the 21st century and the course of all civilization. The hope is vaccines but they will be of no use if they do not reach the arm of all the inhabitants of the planet, “the Andorran Prime Minister, Xavier Espot, warned yesterday, stressing that only in this way will he be able to group immunity achieved. Rebeca Grynspan, the Secretary General of Ibero-America and the only woman present at the summit, urged solidarity for a “transformative recovery” before giving the floor to the leaders.
Agony in Latin America
To try to correct the imbalances in the distribution of serum, the President of the Spanish Government, Pedro Sánchez, announced that he will donate, before the end of the year, 7.5 million doses to Latin America, without affecting the immunization schedule and objectives at the national level. Both he, as the Andorran leader and his Portuguese counterpart, were aware of the agonizing situation that South American countries are going through, the second most mourning region on the planet with 873,000 deaths and 27.4 million infections and where key states such as Brazil, Mexico , Colombia and Argentina face a dramatic increase in deaths and infections with the arrival of the third wave.
The Dominican President, Luis Abinader, very critical of the situation, denounced the “hoarding” of vaccines from the most developed countries, which deny them “in a regrettable and unfair way” to the less favored territories. His Guatemalan counterpart, Alejandro Giammattei, demanded that his access be “Universal” and “equitable”. While numerous voices such as that of the Argentine president, Alberto Fernández, advocated a reconstruction of “consensus” that includes “the most vulnerable” to avoid a lost decade in the region.
Plantón of Maduro and Ortega
The great expectation that the announced presence of Nicolás Maduro had generated, via telematics, at the Ibero-American Summit abruptly disappeared this Wednesday when the Venezuelan president stood up at the last minute. Like him, his Nicaraguan counterpart, Daniel Ortega, was removed from the meeting a few hours before the beginning of a plenary session that already had the sounded absences of the leaders of Brazil, Mexico, Paraguay and El Salvador.
The fact that Maduro appeared at the meeting aroused interest, as well as a great controversy, since his legitimacy is questioned by most of the participating countries, which recognize the opposition leader Juan Guaidó as interim president of Venezuela. This group opposed to the Caracas regime, which was joined by the PP, had even asked Andorra that the guest be Guaidó and not the Bolivarian leader.
Maduro, finally, and without further explanation, chose to delegate his representation to the Venezuelan vice president, Delcy Rodríguez. But the ways in which he stepped aside from the summit on such short notice was not without criticism and reproach. Among them, that of the leader of the PP, Pablo Casado, who described as “embarrassing” for the Spanish Government that, after inviting the “dictator”, he has “despised” to attend.
In any case, it should be remembered that the presidents of Venezuela and Nicaragua have been regular casualties at Ibero-American summits. In addition, it is not the first time that Maduro has raised expectations about his presence to change his mind at the last minute. Already in the previous meeting, held in 2018, he decided to do the same and delegate the representation to his chancellor, Jorge Arreaza, despite the fact that he had already confirmed his attendance.
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