The announcement by the President of the United States, Donald Trump, to temporarily suspend his country's financial contribution to the World Health Organization (WHO), while investigating the role of the international body in the current coronavirus pandemic, materialized on Tuesday (14 / 04).
But it was not a decision that caused so much surprise.
It has long been speculated that Trump's attacks on WHO would not be restricted to rhetoric.
The USA is the country that most contributes to the budget of the multilateral body based in Geneva, Switzerland. Brazil is also an important WHO financier, although it did not pay its contribution in 2019 and 2020, as revealed by the blog of journalist Jamil Chad in Uol.
Brazilian debt to the organization was R $ 169 million until March 31, one of the largest, according to internal WHO documents.
But what motivated Trump?
There are two main reasons, but both involve China, says Barbara Plett-Usher, a BBC correspondent in the US State Department.
On the one hand, the announcement has to do, of course, with the coronavirus.
Trump administration officials accused WHO of making mistakes in treating the pandemic, saying the organization was influenced by China.
They claim that WHO supported the Chinese government's action plan, which underestimated the virus, and did not put enough pressure on it to seek information.
In particular, President Trump expressed dissatisfaction with WHO's criticisms of his decision to prevent Chinese flights from arriving in the U.S.
On the other hand, adds Plett-Usher, it is part of a larger effort by the Trump administration to reduce China's growing global influence, especially in international bodies.
As reported by the American newspaper The Wall Street Journal, the decision seeks to pressure the agency to hire more American employees.
"I instruct my government to stop funding while an investigation is being conducted on WHO's role in maladministration and covering up the spread of the coronavirus," said Trump.
"WHO has failed in its primary duty and must be held accountable," he added.
"Many countries said they would listen to WHO and now they have problems," said Trump, who criticized the organization for not restricting flights from China, where the outbreak originated.
The United Nations Secretary-General, Portuguese António Guterres, reacted to Trump's decision and said that "now is not the time" to cut resources for WHO.
The decision to suspend WHO funding comes at a time when Trump is being criticized for the way he deals with the crisis in the United States, the country with the highest number of deaths by covid-19.
In January, shortly after signing a trade agreement with Beijing, the United States president praised China for containing the virus.
But now Trump questions whether the Asian giant would have told the truth.
"The world has received all kinds of false information. If WHO had gone to China to monitor the outbreak, more lives would be saved," said the president.
"His confidence in China's data may have caused a 20-fold increase in the number of cases in the world," he criticized, without providing proof of what he said.
"His mistakes caused many deaths," he accused, and said the United Nations organization "covered up" the seriousness of the outbreak due to its alleged proximity to China.
"If WHO had done its job of sending medical experts to China to objectively assess the situation on the spot and criticize China's lack of transparency, the outbreak could have been contained in the outbreak with very few deaths," speculated Trump.
Trump had previously accused WHO of placing the politically correct above his task of saving lives and siding with China, a country whose pandemic transparency has been widely criticized by the United States.
$ 400 million
The United States is estimated to be responsible for 15% of all WHO funding. It is the country that contributes the most, in the order of US $ 400 million per year.
But Trump also said he had "serious doubts that America's generosity has been used in the best possible way."
China's contribution in 2018-19 was almost $ 76 million in mandatory contributions and $ 10 million in voluntary contributions, according to the WHO website.
The organization asked in March for $ 675 million to help fight the pandemic and is expected to request at least $ 1 billion now.
All UN member countries are required to contribute to the WHO budget. This contribution is proportional to their wealth and their population.
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