USA accused of ‘modern piracy’ after it seized a Barbados-bound consignment of 20 ventilators

Earlier Germany and France had accused the United States of the same amid the deadly coronavirus outbreak

By Shubhangi Shah

The Caribbean island nation of Barbados is the latest country to accuse the United States of ‘modern piracy’. In a press briefing, Barbados’ Health Minister Lt Colonel Jeffrey Bostic said that the US seized 20 ventilators, that was to be shipped to Barbados, by paying a higher price for it.

What has Barbados accused the US for?

“They [ventilators] were seized in the United States. Paid for, but seized, so we are trying to see exactly what is going to transpire there”, Barbados’ Health Minister said in a statement on Sunday, Barbados Today reported.

“But I remind you that ventilators are one of the most in-demand items in the world today and Barbados is merely wrestling with the other 203 countries and territories around the world seeking to secure as many of these pieces of equipment as possible,” he added.

As a result of the coronavirus pandemic, every country is racing for the scarce medical equipments. Presently, the Caribbean nation has 48 ventilators and it was reported last month that singer Rihanna would buy $700,000 worth of ventilators for Barbados, her native country.

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As on Tuesday, April 7, the country has reported 60 COVID-19 cases, along with two fatalities, as per Worldmeter’s tally. Barbados Minister has assured that the country has sufficient ventilators. “It is absurd for anyone to say, suggest, imply or insinuate that there is a shortage or could in the foreseeable future be an acute shortage of ventilators on the island,” Bostic said.

“We have an adequate amount of ventilators at this point and ventilators have been arriving almost daily over the past two weeks or so. But up to this point, we have only had to use three ventilators,” he added.

Coronavirus pandemic sparks acts of ‘modern piracy’

Last week, Germany had accused the United States of diverting a Germany-bound consignment of 200,000 N95 masks, while they were being transferred between flights in Thailand. Earlier, France had described the race to get masks as a “treasure hunt”.

“I found a stock of masks that was available and Americans – I’m not talking about the American government – but Americans, outbid us”, Valerie Pecresse, the president of the Ile-de-France region said. “They offered three times the price and they proposed to pay upfront. I can’t do that. I’m spending taxpayers’ money and I can only pay on delivery having checked the quality,” she added.

Last week, Spain — the hardest-hit European nation after Italy, had accused Turkey of seizing hundreds of ventilators and sanitary equipment. However, on Saturday, the Spanish Foreign Minister announced that Turkey had agreed to allow the shipment to make its way to Spain. “We appreciate the gesture of a friendly and allied country,” she wrote on Twitter.

After facing accusations of stealing thousands of face masks donated by China to hard-stricken Italy, Czech sent 110,000 masks to Rome. “We’ve just sent 110,000 face masks to Italy by bus heading to Rome… along with 43 Italian tourists who could not get back home,” Foreign Minister Tomas Petricek told AFP. “The Czech Republic certainly didn’t steal anything,” he added