CARACAS, Venezuela (AP) — Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro has authorized the dispatch of oxygen to Brazil to help its South American neighbor treat people sickened amid another wave of the Coronavirus, despite frosty relations between the two governments and Venezuela’s own lack of hospital supplies.
Maduro approved departure for a convoy of six tanker trucks loaded with oxygen in a national broadcast Sunday on state TV. It’s destined for the city of Manaus in the northern state of Amazonas.
“Let this oxygen arrive quickly to the people of Brazil,” Maduro said. “Let the people of Brazil know that to the best of our ability, we are ready to support Brazil.”
Venezuela is gripped by a deepening humanitarian crisis, which critics blame on the failed socialist policies of Maduro’s government. Tensions are high between Maduro and the right-wing government of Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro.
Brazil’s government is one of more than 50 nations around the world that recognize opposition leader Juan Guaidó as Venezuela’s legitimate leader, rather than Maduro, who maintains control over the nation.
The health secretariat of Amazonas state said in a statement the Venezuelan government had donated the oxygen in the trucks, totaling 107,000 cubic meters (3.8 million cubic feet). That is the equivalent of about one and a half days of oxygen demand in the state capital Manaus, according to figures released last week.
White Martins, the multinational that provides oxygen to Manaus’ public hospitals, previously said it could divert some of its supply from Venezuela.