Opposition platform accuses the Nicaraguan government of maintaining a “policy of secrecy and denial” with regard to the Covid-19 pandemic.
By Juan Carlos Bow (Confidencial)
HAVANA TIMES – The Nicaraguan National Coalition issued a complaint to the World Health Organization (WHO), accusing the government of Daniel Ortega of maintaining a “policy of secrecy and denial” in the face of the menace of the Covid-19 virus in Nicaragua.
In a letter directed to Tedros Adnahom Ghebreyesus, Director-General of the WHO, and to Carissa F. Etienne, the director of the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO), members of the coalition expressed their extreme concern for the way in which the government of Nicaragua has up until now managed the looming health crisis of the Covid-19 pandemic.”
They requested that these organizations “communicate with the Nicaraguan government, within the framework of your leadership, and call on them to act responsibly and assume the guidelines issued by the WHO for confronting the pandemic.”
They emphasized that up until Monday, March 23, “the Nicaragua government has recognized only a pair of confirmed cases of the contagion, in accordance with a policy of secrecy and denial that contributes nothing to confronting the health crisis that threatens us.”
They specify that the government “hasn’t implemented any measures for facing the situation: hasn’t broadly informed the population about actions needed to prepare conditions in the health units, nor are they giving orientations on preventive measures.”
Doing the opposite of what’s suggested
“On the contrary, the government promotes activities that contradict the explicit recommendations of the WHO, and they are acting without transparency,” the Coalition letter added. The Coalition is made up of seven civic movements and political parties.
Last week, the Director-General of the WHO suggested that, without exception, countries should isolate themselves to slow the outbreak of the Coronavirus. As an example, they noted that in South Korea the social isolation practices has reduced the number of daily cases of Covid-19 from 800 to 90.
“The (Nicaraguan) authorities reaffirm that they are not implementing nor will they implement any kind of quarantine and – contrary to the world guidelines – they will continue promoting and orienting mass public activities (public employees obligated to march in public, house to house visits, mass [earthquake] simulations, tourist events),” the letter specifies.
They add that the Nicaraguan authorities have still not decided to “suspend classes on any level, despite pressure from the citizens. On the contrary, they’ve threatened those who stay out with not passing their grade.”
Political prisoners and Covid19 in Nicaragua
The opposition leaders indicate that the “precarious” situation of those in jail has left them “especially vulnerable”, and that they’ve called for the “immediate” release of at least 61 political prisoners as well as a change in the incarceration protocol for all prisoners over 60 or who suffer from chronic illnesses or are imprisoned for minor offenses. Thus far, they have had no success with this request.
The Coalition assures that the government actions “not only violate the guidelines” of the WHO, but also “violate national legislation and international Hygiene Regulations, deliberately exposing people to danger, and refusing to implement measures of preparation for the situation, as well as informing truthfully and transparently with respect to this.”
They also point out that “unfortunately” the PAHO authorities in Nicaragua “are once again accompanying the government in their irresponsible actions and not doing anything to change the criminal behavior of the Ortega government, as happened after April 2018, when the government repressed the population and the Health Ministry prohibited attending to those wounded during the protests, which provoked deaths and serious consequences.”
Pan American Health Organization silent
Public health experts and epidemiologists have criticized the posture of the Ortega-Murillo regime in the face of the Covid-19 pandemic in Nicaragua. However, Murillo has defended her “model of direct presence in the communities”, one she terms “successful”, although it exposes the very public employees and health brigade members to contagion.
Murillo adds that her “model” was recognized last Tuesday, March 17, by the Pan American Health Organization director Carissa F. Etienne. “This morning Dr. Carissa Etienne called us and recognized the efforts our country is making from our health model, that reinforces all the work that we do every day,” she said.
Since last week, Confidencial has requested an interview with the PAHO representative in Nicaragua, Mrs. Ana Solis Ortega, to speak about the prevention plans for the imminent spread of Covid-19. Nonetheless, the organization’s press office informed that the official’s schedule was full.
“As you will understand, at these moments we find ourselves focused on the emergency, and our representative’s schedule is complicated. We thank you for your understanding, and we’ll be in contact with you when more time is available,” was the response from PAHO.