The Administration Fight Donald Trump against the World Health Organization (WHO), it seems, is to the death.
A little more than two weeks ago, the US president announced a two-month suspension of economic contributions to the organization while studying the management that it has given to the coronavirus pandemic.
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But in recent days, new elements have emerged that make clear an effort at all levels not only to block the financing of the entity, but to reduce its influence globally. And also strong pressures aimed at provoking the resignation of Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the Ethiopian who serves as CEO in this organization.
Last week, for example, it emerged that Washington would be demanding the formal opening of an investigation into the steps taken by the WHO in the early days of the pandemic.
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Likewise, a list of reforms that this body had begun to circulate among the members of the G7 You would have to adopt before the US restores funding.
Among them, one that would give more independence to the committee of international experts, which is the one that recommends the measures to be adopted when a threat like this arises, and another that seeks more transparency and access to the evaluation that the WHO makes on the information provided by member states affected by the pandemic.
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A few days ago, in addition, a memo from the US Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, began to circulate, in which he asks all agencies to continue financing global health initiatives but without going through the WHO.
In other words, redirect the resources that previously reached the entity so that they are delivered directly to the NGOs and others who implement the programs on the ground.
Last year, the US gave more than US $ 500 million to the WHO in support of this type of initiative worldwide and, before the suspension, similar resources were contemplated for 2020.
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But it’s not just that. According to a report by ‘The Washington Post’, the White House has been promoting the dissemination of information according to which the organization’s officials squander funds on luxurious trips.
According to the Post, this is what Sarah Makin, an administration official, said in a phone call with officials from other countries in which she did not provide evidence of her accusations.
Likewise, the administration has ordered the removal of any mention of WHO when holding press events or distributing coronavirus fact sheets, and has blocked a UN resolution promoting France on the global response to the disease because it expresses support for the WHO.
And he refused to participate in a virtual conference of the G-20 health ministers, which prevented a joint statement, and at the launch on Friday of a WHO initiative for the global search for medicines and vaccines against covid-19.
Pompeo, in a recent interview with the Fox network, did not want to rule out that a US condition for reinstating WHO funding is the departure of Tedros, and it is known that he has been moving the creation of a parallel structure to the WHO to be dedicated to the coronavirus.
In fact, a group of 17 Republican congressmen last week called for the resignation of the director of the WHO director, although they recognized that the role of the body was important.
Tedros, sources say, is surprised by the onslaught of Trump and the Republicans, because He not only supported his candidacy for the WHO, but was very kind during the various conversations which they held in February and March.
The president has been saying for a few weeks that the mortality in his country could have been much lower if the WHO had not been an “accomplice” of China, when this country said in early January that the virus was not being transmitted between people.
Likewise, Trump alleges that the organization promoted disinformation that came out of China and that the influence of Beijing within the organization is excessive. Several countries, including Australia, have highlighted these same complaints.
The president’s torpedoes against the WHO and China only seek to deflect the criticism that has come to him for the handling of the coronavirus in the United States.
But Trump’s critics – including Democrats and many governments in Europe – They believe that the president’s torpedoes against the WHO and China only seek to deflect the criticism that has come out of him for the handling of the coronavirus in EE. UU.
That was glimpsed in a recent teleconference, ambassadors in Washington from Germany and the United Kingdom, Emily Haber and Karen Pierce. “The position of my government is that we need reforms in the WHO but at this moment the most important thing is to cooperate in the pandemic and control the virus,” Pierce said. Haber, for her part, indicated that although the time will come to see what was done well and what was not, “politicizing” the debate amid the current crisis would be counterproductive.
The disease has claimed the lives of more than 66,000 Americans to date. By far the country most affected by the pandemic.
And many say that is due to the president’s slow response and his repeated efforts to minimize the possible impact of the virus on the country. In addition, everything indicates, the accusations against China and the WHO would also be part of an electoral strategy of the Republican party.
According to a 57-page memo that was distributed by the Senate Republican National Committee, lawmakers should focus “on blaming China” for the spread of the virus and not so much on defending Trump’s administration.
That is, to recognize that problems have arisen but immediately attribute them to China and organizations like the WHO without going into discussing the administration’s record.
The serious thing about this, says Richard Gowan -of the International Crisis Group- is that, with or without reason, it is trying to weaken an organization whose role is key to containing the advance of the pandemic not only in the world, but also in USA
In its article, the ‘Post’ quotes without identifying a senior European diplomat for whom the internal politics of the United States is becoming an obstacle to respond effectively against the crisis.
“The administration in the US is obsessed with the re-election campaign and who to hold responsible for the catastrophic situation that is causing the covid-19 in the US. They blame China, WHO. And therefore it is very difficult to negotiate with them, “says the source.
SERGIO GÓMEZ MASERI
EL TIEMPO correspondent