Thousands of people participated in a march called “Love in the times of Covid-19,” in Managua. EFE/Alberto Gonzalez / Confidencial

Working for the Ortega-Murillo Government cost her mother her life. The drama experienced by public employees during the Covid-19 pandemic

By Ligia Gomez* (Confidencial)

HAVANA TIMES – The pandemic has brought more suffering to public employees in Nicaragua, who must expose their lives by attending the activities ordered by Vice President Rosario Murillo. They also expose their relatives to contagion, many of them older adults or minors who never attend these public events.

The result is the worst remorse of conscience that a child can feel for having caused the death of his/her mother, father or a relative. Something that is facilitated by the way in which extended families live in Nicaragua, having more than one family nucleus in the same living space.

Convincing themselves that nothing was going to happen

The Government mocked the measures to prevent Covid-19, in March 2020. This, despite the fact that worldwide the virus had caused deaths and permanent damage to the health of some who have survived it.

Many believed that what their “national leadership” told them was true, that this virus is harmless. They thought Nicaragua was safe and some said, my commander will take care of us.

Government supporters refuse to wear masks, they made fun of some relatives who used them. If they were working in neighboring countries like Costa Rica, some decided to return because they thought that in Nicaragua, they were going to receive free health care, while in Costa Rica they had to pay for it if they got sick. What they did not know was that the Government’s commitment was not to take care of the sick, much less to prevent contagion to save lives.

On social media they celebrated how well the Nicaraguan Health System was prepared for any type of pandemic. However, that reality was transformed as swift burials were observed and hospitals looked overcrowded. Then deaths appeared among Government’s officials and grassroots militants who had relatives who could not tolerate the aggressiveness of the virus.

Contrary to the official discourse, they began to take care of themselves

Learning how dangerous and contagious Covid-19 can be has proven costly for Government workers. An employee who lost her mother said: “You have to be careful, do not go out,” amid crying for having lost her mother to Covid-19.

Weeks before, that same worker did not miss a single call made by the Government to be in crowded activities that demonstrate the Ortega-Murillo “muscle”. That’s the word they use to say  they have the capacity to mobilize the population around their interests.

Inside the state institutions they began to take the temperature of the employees, to give them alcohol gel for their hands and to provide access to material for masks. However, in the neighborhoods nothing changed, people continued in uncertainty and anguish of not knowing what to do if they were infected.

The population of rural communities and urban barrios were divided between those that applied protection measures against contagion and those that did not, because they defended the official rhetoric of the Government. This open attitude of support for the Government in the non-prevention of Covid-19 remained through May 2020.

According to Daniel Ortega, the virus affects the rich

Each week state institutions receive the communication from Rosario Murillo, which is different from what she says daily in her radio speeches. This communication is to lift the spirits of her followers. To keep alive the feeling that they take care of the poor and the rich want to harm us and prevent us from continuing to fulfill our mission.

They are always careful to send messages that make them feel part of something special, that they are part of a mission. Along with the hate discourse towards those who do not want the poor to stop being poor. Anyone who questions is a traitor and that is the greatest embarrassment that a Sandinista can suffer, according to their scale of values.

This internal and public discourse of the Ortega Murillo family is followed by those designated in their organizational structures within the State. It is the same in the neighborhoods and in the communities, for everything the same work format is followed, house-to-house visits. In this case, they used their people to convince the population that there was no virus in Nicaragua.

Later, when it was impossible to hide the impact of the virus, they began to repeat incessantly that everything is “under responsible and careful follow-up”. They launched a campaign on social networks with the hashtag #Danielishealth, in order for the population to continue with their normal work routine. They trusted that if the economy was healthy, everything else is secondary to the people.

Some State workers and FSLN party activists from neighborhoods and communities who have had a death among their families, when they are extremely poor, receive support to get a coffin and a plot at the God’s Miracles cemetery in Managua or in municipal cemeteries of the departments.

Some give thanks to the Commander and “companera” (comrade) Rosario for having given them that support. They say that no one else was going to give it to them. That is how the message is repeated in the house-to-house visits. That’s the way used to convince the majority of the poor population of the good intentions of the presidential couple.

What they expect to happen

Meanwhile the leaders now take care of themselves with the utmost care, so much so that they do not go out to any public activity at all. They continue to demand that their supporters go out to public activities that ensure them to give the image of normality. They expect people will get used to the new reality and to whatever has to happen. Those who cannot protect themselves become ill or survive the disease or die.

It will never be possible to know how many casualties there will be, and the political cost to the Government will remain low. Meanwhile, public employees must trust their luck just like the rest of the population. To mourn their dead and live with the doubt of being the next on the list of those who “passed to a better life.”

*Ligia Gomez, former manager of Economic Investigations at the Nicaraguan Central Bank and FSLN political leader at that institution.

Related post: Former FSLN Political Secretary at the Nicaraguan Central Bank Speaks Out


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