US ambassador denies supplies to fight COVID-19 have been blocked

Todd Chapman said US law bans such a practice

Published in 07/04/2020 - 16:30 By Pedro Peduzzi - Brasília

The new US ambassador to Brazil, Todd Chapman, during a press conference held online today (Apr. 7), denied his country acquired, purchased, retained or blocked any hospital supplies or medication destined for the fight against the new coronavirus in Brazil.

Chapman described the allegations as “bad news,” publicized by those seeking to advance their “personal or government agendas” or to benefit many suppliers “wanting to sell there, wanting to sell here,” in the search for more profit.

“Our justice officials are already working against this, because our law doesn’t allow this practice, aiming [to set] overpriced values,” the ambassador noted.

“The US government did not buy any medical supplies manufactured in China and destined for Brazil,” he said. “During this health emergency,” he added, “it is important to take care of the information, and know where it comes from.”

As for the reports disclosed by governors, saying his country blocked medication and equipment meant for Brazil’s North and Northeast, Chapman asked that this information be relaid to his government for investigation.

“The governors may relay information so we can investigate. We have done so, and we saw what’s happening. Should any concerns arise, feel free to contact us. I repeat, we’re not blocking these things. This, however, doesn’t mean there’s no one saying this is happening.”

China

When asked whether, from the US government perspective, China is working to gain geopolitical influence by offering more supplies to other countries to fight the new virus, Chapman shunned any controversial statements and said it is time for everybody to join efforts.

“When your neighborhood is on fire and houses are burning, it’s not the time to debate and use arguments to state your case. It’s not the time to discuss where the fire started. We know this. It’s a fact. The important thing is to control and put out the fire. That’s why we’re all going to work together to extinguish this disease.”

Health partnership

Still addressing reporters, the ambassador mentioned the “long and productive history” Brazil and the US have built in health care, which made possible the installation of a disease control office at least a decade ago, as well as joint initiatives linked to other viruses, like Zika and HIV.

“We’ve been sharing a lot of information about what we’re seeing and studying [regarding the disease] in the US. Furthermore, our private sector is taking action in several sectors already present here. I was did a number of conference calls with these companies. Some are repairing ventilators, making data available, increasing mask production. The US private sector has been active in Brazil for a long time,” the ambassador stated.

He also talked about the $60 billion swap line, recently unveiled by the Federal Reserve, to help Brazil ease its market.

Relations with Brazil

Chapman, who arrived in Brazil recently to serve as US ambassador to the Latin American country, said he will have three main priorities: “The first comprises the economy, trade, and investment. This will become even more important after we get out of this crisis. Second is security—not just military, but also police security, doing everything we can for the security of our people, in order to protect them from enemies such as terrorists and drug traffickers,” he said.

“Number three is the set of global topics regarding which the US and Brazil are in line with each other—like democracy, freedom of expression, and freedom of religion,” he added.

He referred to himself as the kind of ambassador that goes beyond receptions, “rolling up [his] sleeves to work with the Brazilian people and ministers for the good of Brazil and the US, because when our friends are safe, the US are also safe.”

Translation: Fabrício Ferreira -  Edition: Maria Claudia / Nira Foster

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