President Nicolas Maduro's government has requested $5 billion from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to deal with the coronavirus pandemic in Venezuela, where 33 cases have been reported so far.
"We come up to your honorable organism to request your assessment, regarding the possibility of granting Venezuela a financing facility for $5 billion from the Emergency Fund of the Rapid Financing Instrument (IFR), resources that will contribute significantly to strengthen our detection and response system " reads the letter signed by Maduro.
Venezuelan Foreign Affairs Minister Jorge Arreaza published the letter on his Twitter account on March 17.
“President Nicolas Maduro has formally requested financing for $5 million to the International Monetary Fund to strengthen the response capacity of our health system during the Covid-19 contingency. Another timely action to protect the people,” Arreaza wrote.
It is the first time Venezuela turns to the International Monetary Fund in almost 20 years. In 2007, Former President Hugo Chavez announced the country was withdrawing from the IMF because he believed it served U.S. interests, but the decision to withdraw was not materialized.
In January last year, the IMF suspended activity with Venezuela because of the political crisis in which it is immersed.
The letter, dated March 15th, 2020, is addressed to the Managing Director of the IMF, Kristalina Georgieva, and mentions the "hard and unexpected battle the world is facing today against the outbreak of the new coronavirus".
“Only under the spirit of solidarity, brotherhood and social discipline we will be able to overcome the situations that come our way, and we will know how to protect the life and well being of our people,” it adds.
Maduro has placed the country in quarantine to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, and has suspended all work and school activities.
"I want to announce that starting Tuesday, March 17, Venezuela will enter into social quarantine, the entire country, the 23 states and the capital district, all into social quarantine, into collective quarantine," Maduro said on Monday. He confirmed 16 new coronavirus cases, reaching a total of 33.