Nicaragua’s Ortega Lambasts Call to “Stay at Home”

Workers of the Nicaraguan Ministry of Health (MINSA) disinfect several sections in the “Mercado Oriental” Photo. Jorge Torres / EFE

Regime persists in errors against the pandemic: without transparent measures or information, although it has yielded in some measures such as disinfecting markets.

By Juan Carlos Bow (Confidencial)

HAVANA TIMES – Despite the fact that the Ortega regime has been forced to yield on some measures to prevent Covid-19, be it from national or international pressure, it has persisted in errors since the beginning of the emergency, disregarding that they are internationally  recommended measures by the World Health Organization (WHO).

The regime continues to report briefly and ambiguously on the progress of the pandemic, with statements in which it adds and subtracts active cases but does not present totals. It also does not indicate how many Covid-19 screening tests have been done and what their results are.

Until this May 1, Nicaragua officially reports 14 positive cases, of which there were three active cases and four deceased. However, the Government hides two already deceased cases, which were verified by family members and medical sources. In addition, it registers 162 suspected cases, of which there are 15 in “follow-up”. The independent count of the Citizen Observatory, however, recorded at least 431 cases in its latest report with data up to April 29th.

Daniel Ortega against prevention of Covid-19

Against quarantine

This April 30, after another fifteen days of absence, after his last public speech, Daniel Ortega reappeared from his offices/residence in El Carmen, to speak out against the home protection promoted by civil society as prevention from Covid-19, calling these measures as “extreme” and “radical.” Ortega also questioned the “Stay at home”campaign because, in his opinion, it would destroy the Nicaraguan economy, which is “increasingly informal.”

Daniel Ortega in his speech presented in a giant screen located on Bolivar Avenue. Photo: EFE / Jorge Torre

Open borders

The regime has not officially closed the borders, although it has prevented the entry of more than 250 Nicaraguans, who are stranded in El Salvador and the Cayman Islands. The Augusto C. Sandino International Airport, in Managua, remains open, although international airlines have prolonged the resumption of flights until June and July. Daniel Ortega said this April 30 he gave orders to paralyze air traffic due to the measures taken by other countries and that Nicaragua is demanding that all international transport travelers entering the country must present a negative test certificate of Covid-19. However, the airport remains open.

Some 35 Nicaraguans are stuck in La Unión, El Salvador.  Photo: Courtesy

Promotion of local tourism

Since the start of the regional emergency for Covid-19, Nicaragua has refused to declare a mandatory quarantine or avoid crowds. In line with this position, the Ortega Government announced that from May they will be promoting internal tourism through the campaign “Nicaragua so sweet, with love for you.”

The director of the Nicaraguan Institute of Tourism (INTUR), Anasha Campbell, has said that they will carry out monthly activities and in May they will focus on the touristic bay of San Juan del Sur, in the colonial cities of Granada and Leon; and in the South Caribbean.

Public Activities Persist

General view of the public at a boxing evening, at the facilities of the Alexis Arguello sports center in Managua. Photo: EFE / Jorge Torres

Boxing evenings

The regime tries to sell the image of “normality” in the midst of the pandemic, to such a degree that Nicaragua is the only country in the Americas that has organized boxing events. Despite the free admission, public assistance was not as the expected.

The Government ensured that the fight night at the Alexis Arguello sports center, held on Saturday, April 25, would be broadcasted internationally, through the sports channel ESPN. The low attendance could not be seen in the television broadcast, since it did not show the empty spaces.

Although this was the only fight night that garnered attention, throughout Saturday night, four other government-sponsored boxing events were held in Nicaragua, with 16 fights each.

Government gives in with some cleaning measures

The Ortega regime has slightly varied its attitude regarding measures against Covid-19. However, it maintains a relaxed policy on other issues concerning the pandemic, such as open borders and carrying out mass activities.

In her latest daily address to the nation, the Vice President and First Lady, Rosario Murillo, has insisted on “personal distancing” as a precaution against the Covid-19, as well as the “use of the mask,” topics that weeks ago were not mentioned in her statements.

Since the start of the pandemic, the regime has prohibited medical personnel the use of masks, so as not to “alarm” the population. Now, Murillo affirms that the masks are necessary for “people with respiratory symptoms; health personnel, people who care for vulnerable people, and those sick in the family.”

University Council announces change of modality due to the pandemic. Taken from the UNAN website / Confidencial

Universities reduce in-person classes

Since this Monday, the National Autonomous University of Nicaragua (UNAN) changed to a new modality. Students only show up twice a week and were divided into shifts and by faculties. The campuses that already work under this modality are those of Managua and the Regional Multidisciplinary Faculties of Carazo, Matagalpa, Chontales and Esteli. It is not yet known what will happen to the Leon university campus, where the students have demanded protection measures.

The Nicaraguan Polytechnical University (UPOLI) announced this week that they have also decided to change to less regular in-person classes “with online support.” According to what students of the campuses in Managua, Boaco, Rivas and Esteli have said, they will attend “an average of two to three days a week, according to the type of career.”

Workers of the Nicaraguan Ministry of Health (MINSA), disinfect several sections of the “Mercado Oriental.” Photo: Taken from 19 Digital.

Cleaning of markets

The Municipal Markets Corporation of Managua, the Ministry of Health and the Managua Mayor’s Office began this week the cleaning and disinfection with chlorine of thousands of stands of the seven markets in the capital, which bring together some 23,000 established vendors and about 5,000 casual sellers.

Disinfection of buses, taxis and terminals

The regime also started this week the daily disinfection of urban and inter-municipal transportation units in Nicaragua. As well as taxis and bus terminals.

In the disinfection process, a mixture consisting of one-part chlorine and four parts water is used, sprayed with pumps.

Workers of the Ministry of Health (MINSA), disinfect taxis in Managua. Photo: EFE / Jorge Torres.

Extreme measures at the Supreme Court

After the suspicion that a family of officials of the Supreme Court of Justice (CSJ) were in quarantine for Covid-19 was disclosed on social networks, this State power stepped up measures to protect against the coronavirus. Protective material such as gel alcohol, liquid soap, liquid surfaces and floor disinfectants, chlorine, as well as masks and gloves, were distributed in all locations in the country, prioritizing personnel who serve the public.

They also built a disinfection booth at the entrance of their main building in Managua, and restricted entry to the judicial complexes. They only allow entry to the personnel related to the cases: defendants, plaintiffs, victims, legal representatives, witnesses and court workers.