Daniel Ortega, one-time idol of the left, has appeared after a month's absence from the public eye, giving a TV speech in which he claimed the coronavirus was a sign from God against militarism and hegemony.
“These transnational forces that just want to take control of the planet, that is a sin,” Ortega said. “And the Lord is sending us this signal.”Ortega claimed that Nicaragua had suffered only one death from the coronavirus pandemic and that the country’s three confirmed cases were “imported”. Ortega did not comment on how many tests have been carried out. Experts suspect there are many undetected cases. Ortega has refused to adopt the social-distancing and lockdown measures used in other countries, and has in fact encouraged Nicaraguans to participate in mass gatherings.
Nicaraguans “haven’t stopped working, because if this country stops working, it dies”, Ortega said. The government did extend Holy Week school vacations to two weeks.
Amnesty International said “the government of President Daniel Ortega is flagrantly ignoring the recommendations of international human rights organizations regarding the Covid-19 pandemic, putting at risk the health and lives of thousands of people in Nicaragua.”
Erika Guevara-Rosas, Americas director at Amnesty International, said: “It’s surprising that, after preventing and suppressing any form of social protest for the past two years, it [the government] is now promoting mass marches and gatherings, exposing the population to the pandemic.”