In the wake of Hurricane Matthew’s devastation in Haiti, the Venezuelan government continues to extend material solidarity with the island nation.
This week, Venezuela sent 50 health professionals to Haiti. According to Reuters, the death toll in the country has reached more than 1,000 as Hurricane Matthew has also accelerated the spread of cholera in the country.
Vice-President for Social Development and Revolutionizing the Missions Jorge Arreaza confirmed Monday that the Simón Bolívar Humanitarian Task Force was dispatched to Haiti and will work in the country for approximately 8 days. The team includes 40 epidemiologists and 10 general medical practitioners. The humanitarian task force departed from Simón Bolívar International Airport in Maiquetía the same day.
“We reached Haiti with our solidarity; two boats and two planes have left and we will continue to extend our solidarity and humanitarian aid with the people of Haiti in all ways,” expressed President Nicolás Maduro on Sunday. Maduro has called on a total of 200 doctors to travel to the country to offer medical assistance.
The doctors are recent graduates of the Salvador Allende Latin American School of Medicine located in Caracas, Venezuela. The school is the result of cooperation between Cuba and Venezuela.
Venezuelan media outlet Noticias 24 reported the words of one doctor, “we are committed to the homeland, to representing Venezuela, helping as medical specialists and applying our knowledge.”
Another doctor of Haitian nationality explained that the delegation presented him with the opportunity to serve his people. “There are three things that complement a medical professional: practical knowledge, theory and humanism,” he stated.
Arreaza relayed that the Venezuelan government has already sent 700 tons of humanitarian aid to Haiti and will continue to ship materials.
“Integral community doctors, integral general doctors are heading to Haiti, to disaster zones, to provide healthcare and support for this beloved people,” affirmed Arreaza.
Along with the medical team, the Venezuelan government transported 20 tons of additional materials including medicine. The shipment primarily included: antibiotics, saline solution and analgesics among other supplies.
The Bolivarian government has also sent materials to Cuba to rebuild homes and roads in recent days.
Venezuela and Haiti share a long history of solidarity and cooperation. Former President Hugo Chávez emphasized the Venezuelan people’s historical debt to the island nation for South American independence. Haitian independence leaders donated their armed forces, printing press, ships and weapons to the Venezuelan people to liberate South America from Spanish colonialism.
Likewise, after the 2010 earthquake in Haiti which resulted in massive devastation, the Venezuelan people extended solidarity through humanitarian aid, doctors and other trauma specialists. The US military takeover of the Haitian airport stalled the entry of many international teams, including Venezuela’s. The Bolivarian government also offered work and student visas for Haitians after the earthquake.