Turkey sends virus aid to Venezuela

US sanctions on Venezuela allow for humanitarian exemptions. Turkey is active in delivering coronavirus-related aid around the world.

al-monitor People wearing face masks walk along Sabana Grande Boulevard after the government intensified a nationwide lockdown as a preventive measure against the spread of the coronavirus, in Caracas, Venezuela, July 15, 2020.  Photo by Photo by FEDERICO PARRA/AFP via Getty Images.

Jul 17, 2020

Turkey sent a plane of medical aid to Venezuela on Thursday. Ankara sends COVID-19 aid to many countries around the world, but the Venezuela delivery is significant due to the South American nation’s hostile relationship with the United States.

The delivery sought to help Venezuela fight the coronavirus pandemic, the state-run Anadolu Agency reported. Pictures of the delivery tweeted by Turkey’s Ministry of National Defense showed boxes with a quote about hope from the Persian-language mystic poet Rumi in Turkish and Spanish.

Turkey is active in delivering coronavirus-related aid to countries around the world. Turkey is one of only 11 countries to send aid directly to countries in sub-Saharan Africa. Turkey also distributed hygiene kits to Tanzania, Anadolu reported today.

The US sanctions the Venezuelan government and supports an opposition government there. In May, a State Department official told Al-Monitor the United States was pressuring companies to stop doing business with Venezuela’s state oil company amid Iranian fuel deliveries there. Iran, an ally of Caracas also sanctioned by the United States, has continued various aid shipments to Venezuela despite vocal opposition from the United States.

Anadolu described Venezuela’s economy as “crippled by US sanctions.”

Washington is not opposed to assistance to Venezuela like that Turkey provided. A State Department spokesperson told Al-Monitor that in general, US sanctions on Venezuela exempt medicine, food, clothing and the like. A June report from the Congressional Research Service also noted exemptions to US sanctions on Venezuela for humanitarian assistance, including medicine.

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