"They were retained but I don't know if the figure invoked by the Brazilian government is a law or a presidential decree," Paraguay's Health Minister Julio Mazzoleni told a local TV channel Sunday.
The minister added that now "other non-traditional routes" are being sought for the acquisition of equipment and supplies to care for those infected by the coronavirus.
Mazzoleni explained that "everything that's associated with medicine in terms of equipment is retained in Brazil as their companies cannot sell their products out of the country anymore." The Brazilian supplier was forced to refund the Paraguayan government.
Meanwhile, members from Mercosur’s Parliament rejected the decision from Jair Bolsonaro’s administration, calling it “a seizure and abuse by Brazil, violating human rights,” as “these types of equipment were acquired to respond to the needs of the COVID-19 pandemic in our country.”
The MPs reminded Bolsonaro’s government that because Paraguay doesn’t have a waterfront they depend solely on the Mercosur partners for essential imports, especially now amid the pandemic.
As of Monday, Paraguay is one of the least affected countries in South America with 159 reported cases and seven deaths. While Brazil tops the region with the highest number of cases with over 24,900 and more than 1,400 deaths.