Nicaragua's President reappears after 34 days of total absence
After more than a month without making an appearance, Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega addressed the country for the first time.
If there have been political leaders in Latin America who have been criticized and inefficient in their handling of the COVID-19 pandemic, none has been more so than Daniel Ortega, the president of Nicaragua.
March 12 was the last time Ortega addressed his citizens, one day after the World Health Organization officially declared COVID-19 a pandemic.
Ortega's absence from the national scene was so striking and extraordinary in the midst of a pandemic that has the entire planet on guard that rumors of his possible death circulated for weeks.
According to official reports, Nicaragua has 9 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and there has been one death. But no other country on the continent has so few reported cases, not even El Salvador and Venezuela (with 164 and 197 cases respectively), with their particularly fragile health systems and reduced capacity for analysis.
If we continue to contrast Nicaragua with El Salvador and Venezuela, we will also see that Nicaragua is the country that has taken the fewest measures against the pandemic: only one: sending small teams of unprotected doctors to knock on doors, handing out pamphlets with information.
According to Ortega in his speech, this is the reason why Nicaragua has had 9 cases of contagion, something that not even the most efficient countries in containing the pandemic, such as South Korea or New Zealand, were able to achieve.
To date, Nicaragua has not closed borders or restricted the movement of its citizens in any way, nor has it imposed curfews or quarantines. The reason, Ortega explained in his 25-minute speech, is that "if the country stops working, the country dies, the people die, they become extinct."
After a year of protests and brutal repression of the population, Ortega shows no signs of having the political will to change his mode of operation in favor of his already vulnerable population.