May 14, 2021

Menéndez, Kaine, Rubio Instan al Presidente Biden a Enfocarse en el Acceso a las Vacunas COVID-19 para América Latina y el Caribe

WASHINGTON – El Senador Bob Menéndez (D-N.J.), el Presidente del Comité de Relaciones Exteriores en el Senado, y los Senadores Tim Kaine (D-Va.) y Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), el Presidente y Miembro de Más Alto Rango del Subcomité del Hemisferio Occidental, instaron hoy a la Administración Biden a que desarrolle una estrategia integral que aborde la grave crisis del COVID-19 en América Latina y el Caribe y se enfoque en el acceso a vacunas para los países en desarrollo en las Américas. Mientras la pandemia continua arrasando varios países de la región, América Latina y el Caribe ya constituyen aproximadamente un tercio de la cifra total de muertos a nivel mundial a consecuencia del COVID-19.

“Es crítico que los Estados Unidos expanda nuestros esfuerzos para asegurar que las personas más vulnerables del mundo sean vacunadas”, escribieron los senadores al Presidente Biden, elogiando a la administración por priorizar la ayuda a Canadá y México, y alentando un apoyo similar para la República Dominicana, Haití, Jamaica, las Bahamas y otros países de la región. “Hasta ahora en lo que va del 2021, casi el 77 por ciento de todos los visitantes a los Estados Unidos han venido de América Latina y el Caribe, muchos para visitar a sus familiares. Dada la frecuencia y el número de personas que viajan entre la región y los Estados Unidos, le instamos a desarrollar rápidamente un plan para compartir vacunas con los países necesitados”.

A medida que los Estados Unidos se prepara para tener un mayor suministro de vacunas de lo necesitado para el uso doméstico, la Administración Biden anunció recientemente que compartiría 60 millones de dosis de la vacuna AstraZeneca no utilizadas con otros países. La lista final de los países que recibirán estas donaciones no ha sido definida. Los senadores también especificaron los beneficios estratégicos y de seguridad nacional de facilitar el acceso a las vacunas para América Latina y el Caribe.

“Sin el compromiso y el liderazgo de Estados Unidos, nuestros competidores continuaran los esfuerzos de aprovechar sus vacunas menos efectivas para coaccionar a los países de América Latina y el Caribe en apoyo de una agenda diplomática hostil hacia la nuestra. Por ejemplo, a principios de este año, China prometió envíos de vacunas para Paraguay a cambio  de que el gobierno paraguayo dejara de reconocer a Taiwán”, agregaron los senadores. “Mientras que la administración continua con sus esfuerzos de facilitar el acceso a las vacunas para los países en desarrollo a través del Fondo de Acceso Global para Vacunas COVID-19 y asegurar que las personas más vulnerables sean vacunados en todo el mundo, lo cual apoyamos firmemente, pedimos que se considere específicamente al Hemisferio Occidental”.

Para leer la carta de los senadores al Presidente Biden en su totalidad, haga clic AQUÍ.

### 

Menendez, Kaine, Rubio Urge President Biden to Focus On COVID-19 Vaccine Access for Latin America and the Caribbean 

WASHINGTON – Senator Bob Menendez (D-N.J.), Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, was joined today by Senators Tim Kaine (D-Va.) and Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), Chairman and Ranking Member of the Senate Subcommittee on Western Hemisphere, in calling on the Biden Administration to develop a comprehensive strategy that addresses the severe COVID-19 crisis in Latin America and the Caribbean and focuses on vaccine access for developing countries in the Americas. As the pandemic continues to ravage through multiple countries in the region, Latin America and the Caribbean already account for approximately one third of the total COVID-19 global death toll.

“It is critical that the United States expand our efforts to ensure that the world’s most vulnerable are vaccinated,” wrote the Senators to President Biden, lauding the administration’s prioritization of aid to Canada and Mexico, and encouraging similar support for the Dominican Republic, Haiti, Jamaica, the Bahamas, and other countries across the region. “Nearly 77 percent of all visitors to the United States thus far in 2021 have come from Latin America and the Caribbean, many to visit family members. Given the frequency and number of people traveling between the region and the United States, we urge you to quickly develop a plan to share vaccines with countries in need.”

With the U.S. on track to have a greater supply of vaccines than needed for domestic use, the Biden Administration recently announced it would share 60 million doses of unused AstraZeneca vaccines with other countries. The final list of countries that will receive the donations has not been decided. The senators also specified the strategic and national security benefits of facilitating vaccine access for Latin America and the Caribbean.

“Without U.S. engagement and leadership, our competitors will continue efforts to use their less effective vaccines as leverage to coerce Latin America and Caribbean nations in support of a diplomatic agenda inimical to ours. In just one example, earlier this year, China promised vaccine shipments to Paraguay in exchange for Paraguayan government ceasing recognition of Taiwan,” added the Senators. “While the Administration continues its efforts to facilitate vaccine access for developing countries through the COVID-19 Vaccines Global Access Facility to ensure that the most vulnerable are vaccinated around the world, which we strongly support, we request that the Western Hemisphere be given particular consideration.”

A copy of the Senator’s letter to President Biden can be found HERE and below.

Dear Mr. President:

 

We write to encourage your administration to develop a strategy to address the severe COVID-19 crisis in Latin America and the Caribbean and prioritize vaccine access for developing countries in the region. It is critical that the United States expand our efforts to ensure that the world’s most vulnerable are vaccinated.

 

The United States has made tremendous progress combatting COVID-19 and accelerating vaccine access for everyone who is eligible in our country. While vaccinating the entire U.S. population—including U.S. military personnel and citizens serving overseas—rightfully remains our top priority, it appears that the United States will soon have a greater supply of vaccines than needed for domestic use. With the virus continuing to circulate around the world, there are significant risks that more virulent and vaccine-resistant variants will proliferate. Until COVID-19 is completely contained, it presents an urgent national security threat to the United States.

 

Your administration recently announced its intent to offer 60 million unused AstraZeneca vaccines to foreign countries, but has not announced the full list of countries that will receive these doses. At a recent Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing on the U.S. international response to the COVID-19 pandemic, Members emphasized to administration witnesses the need for a detailed global distribution strategy and the importance of prioritizing the Americas.  While the Administration continues its efforts to facilitate vaccine access for developing countries through the COVID-19 Vaccines Global Access Facility to ensure that the most vulnerable are vaccinated around the world, which we strongly support, we request that the Western Hemisphere be given particular consideration. 

 

We welcome the administration’s early decision to aid Canada and Mexico, and strongly encourage you to consider similar support for the Dominican Republic, Haiti, Jamaica, the Bahamas, and other countries across the region. Nearly 77 percent of all visitors to the United States thus far in 2021 have come from Latin America and the Caribbean, many to visit family members. Given the frequency and number of people traveling between the region and the United States, we urge you to quickly develop a plan to share vaccines with countries in need, with particular emphasis on ways to ensure surplus vaccines are provided to our closest neighbors. Such an effort would mitigate risks to our nation, reinforce the importance of our partnerships, and provide a counterbalance to our competitors.

 

With nearly one million deaths—approximately 28 percent of the global death toll—nations in Latin America and the Caribbean have been among the hardest hit by the COVID-19 pandemic.

 

We are especially concerned about the situation in South America, where the rapid spread of COVID-19 in the region led to emergence of the highly contagious P-1 variant, which has now been detected in the United States. Additionally, the COVID-19 pandemic has wrought a deep economic and social crisis that will be felt for years to come. The International Monetary Fund projects that economies in the region contracted by 7.4 percent in 2020, while youth unemployment has reached 25 percent across the region—the highest on record.

 

Without U.S. engagement and leadership, our competitors will continue efforts to use their less effective vaccines as leverage to coerce Latin America and Caribbean nations in support of a diplomatic agenda inimical to ours. In just one example, earlier this year, China promised vaccine shipments to Paraguay in exchange for Paraguayan government ceasing recognition of Taiwan.

 

Facilitating vaccine access for Latin America and the Caribbean is in our strategic and security interest.  As such, we respectfully urge your administration to formulate a strategy to determine how vaccine diplomacy can also be focused on this region.

 

Thank you for your leadership in helping tackle the COVID-19 pandemic and please count on our continued support for your efforts.

 

 

                                                                                    Sincerely,

 

###

Press Contact

Juan Pachon