Trucks carrying oxygen tanks arrived to the city of Manaus in the Brazilian state of Amazonas from Venezuela on the night of January 19. Venezuela had announced on January 14 that in light of the humanitarian crisis provoked by a drastic increase in COVID-19 cases in Amazonas, it would send 130,000 liters of oxygen to support the struggling public health system.
The arrival of the oxygen tanks to Brazil was met with widespread celebration from authorities and inhabitants of Amazonas, as well as people across Brazil.
Marcellus Campêlo, Health Secretary for the Amazonas State, told Telesur that “The arrival of this oxygen to Manaus from Venezuela is very important to stabilize the supply of oxygen in the public system in Amazonas. We are going through a very hard time with regard to our supply so any help and any donation that we receive is very welcome, especially this large shipment that is coming from Venezuela.”
He added that the people of Amazonas “thank the Venezuelan people for their support to the city of Manaus and the Amazonas state. We send our most cordial thanks for the support they are giving to us here.”
In addition to the oxygen tanks, the Bolivarian government also formed a brigade with 107 Brazilian and Venezuelan doctors, graduates of the Salvador Allende Latin American School of Medicine in Caracas, to help combat the pandemic in the State. Venezuelan Foreign Minister Jorge Arreaza said the newly formed brigade will be called Simón Bolívar Brigade.
“We are bringing peace, we are bringing joy, implementing our diplomacy of peace here with our brothers and sisters, the Brazilian people that need us,” Patricia Silva, the consul of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela in Manaus, told Telesur. She added, “As the Bolivarian government, we defend our principle of cooperation and solidarity. Solidarity among the people will save us, especially in the midst of this terrible pandemic. That is why we came here, to extend our hands to these people that have given us so much love.”
Earlier in the day, various social movements and left political parties including the Landless Rural Workers’ Movement, the Workers’ Party of Brazil and others, gathered outside the Venezuelan embassy in Brazil’s capital Brasilia to thank the nation for its tremendous act of solidarity.
Manifestantes en la Embajada de Venezuela en Brasilia @EmbaVEBrasil agradecen la solidaridad del gobierno de @NicolasMaduro por el envío de oxígeno a Manaos en medio del colapso sanitario que vive la capital de Amazonas. @teleSURtv pic.twitter.com/XGhnv0uVUl— Nacho Lemus (@LemusteleSUR) January 19, 2021
Miembros del PT y diversos movimientos sociales brasileños se hicieron presentes en la Embajada de Venezuela en Brasil con cintas tricolor para darnos un abrazo solidario y agradecer al Gobierno venezolano el apoyo brindado al pueblo de Manaos.— Embaixada da Venezuela (@EmbaVEBrasil) January 19, 2021
Solidariedade divide oxigeno! pic.twitter.com/qGqmwrye59
While the trucks were making their way to Manaus, people in a neighboring municipality Presidente Figueiredo gathered on the highway to cheer them on.
AGRADECIMENTO BRASILEIRO AO OXIGÊNIO QUE VEM DA VENEZUELA PARA SALVAR VIDAS EM MANAUS— Jornalistas Livres (@J_LIVRES) January 20, 2021
Algumas pessoas se reuniram nesta noite em Presidente Figueiredo, no Amazonas, para aplaudir e acenar para os caminhões de oxigênio que chegam ao estado. pic.twitter.com/LipB55blOp
In an exclusive interview with Brasil de Fato on Sunday, foreign minister Jorge Arreaza stated: “It is a very beautiful gesture, very Bolivarian. I hope that Brazil can see it in this way. We are doing this with complete impartiality, we do not want anything in exchange. What we want is to save these lives and give tranquility to these Brazilian families.”
Brazil has been one of the worst impacted countries during the pandemic, which progressive movements have largely attributed to the mismanagement of the public health crisis by the federal government under far-right Jair Bolsonaro. According to the bulletin of the National Council of Health Secretaries (CONASS), as of January 19, Brazil has 8,573,864 confirmed cases and 211,491 deaths, second only to the United States.
The Amazonas State, which as of January 19 has 233,971 confirmed cases and 6,450 deaths, saw the number of new cases per week and deaths per week triple from the last week of December 2020 to the second week of January 2021. The sudden increase overwhelmed the public health system in the State and exceeded its capacities in terms of oxygen supplies, ICU beds and other essentials to care for patients.
The Venezuelan material and technical support in this sense will make a concrete and important difference in this crucial moment.