Two more leading Latin American politicians test positive for Covid-19

Bolivia’s rightwing interim president and Venezuela’s Socialist party leader follow in Bolsonaro’s footsteps

Bolivia’s interim president Jeanine Anez has announced  that she has tested positive for Covid-19. Photograph: Natacha Pisarenko/AP.

Bolivia’s interim president Jeanine Anez has announced that she has tested positive for Covid-19. Photograph: Natacha Pisarenko/AP.

 

Two more leading Latin American politicians - from Bolivia and Venezuela - say they have tested positive for Covid-19 in the same week Brazil’s president announced he had contracted coronavirus.

Diosdado Cabello, Venezuela’s number two official and the leader of the Socialist party, announced his diagnosis on social media on Thursday evening and said he was in self-isolation.

“We will prevail!!” tweeted the influential Chavista.

Jeanine Anez, Bolivia’s rightwing interim president, said she had received the same diagnosis.

“I’ve tested positive for Covid-19,” tweeted Ms Anez, who controversially took power after Evo Morales was forced into exile last year. “I’m OK, I will work in isolation. Together, we will get through this.”

The announcements came two days after Brazil’s president, Jair Bolsonaro, said he had tested positive and underline the extent to which Covid-19 is sweeping across the region.

Latin America is home to 8 per cent of the global population but nearly half of recent Covid-19 deaths. The region has suffered more than 120,000 of the world’s 550,000 coronavirus fatalities since its first official case was recorded in Brazil in March.

More than 3 million confirmed cases have been recorded. Brazil is the worst-hit country with a confirmed death toll of more than 69,000 and 1.7 million infections.

The official Covid-19 figures of neighbouring Venezuela - which Human Rights Watch has claimed are not credible - are far lower, with just 75 recorded deaths and 8,010 confirmed cases. But on Wednesday the president, Nicolas Maduro, warned his economically collapsed country was now witnessing the “real outbreak”.

Mr Cabello’s announcement came amid growing fears over Covid-19’s advance through Venezuela and the potential for its already collapsed health system to be overwhelmed.

Juan Pablo Guanipa, a prominent opposition politician involved in efforts to force Mr Maduro from power, said he believed the situation was far worse than Venezuela’s authoritarian regime was admitting.

“I’m certain these figures bear no relation to reality. The reality is utterly overwhelming,” he said.

Mr Guanipa is from the western state of Zulia, which appears to be one of the worst-hit parts of Venezuela, with 1,661 of its 8,010 confirmed cases.

Zulia’s Chavista governor announced on Thursday that he had also been infected.

“We are in battle and stable. God is with us. We shall overcome,” Omar Prieto wrote on Twitter.

There are also growing concerns over coronavirus’ spread through Bolivia which has recorded 1,577 Covid-19 deaths and nearly 43,000 cases. Last month the president of Honduras, Juan Orlando Hernandez, also tested positive for Covid-19. - Guardian