“Be like Ortega,” is the viral message in Nicaragua to combat the covid-19. The message refers to the absence of Nicaragua President Daniel Ortega, who hasn’t been seen in public since the coronavirus pandemic.
The message to ‘be like Ortega’ is to tell Nicaraguans to stay home, not to go out, just as their president is doing.
“Ortega doesn’t go to marches or meetings. Ortega doesn’t send his grandchildren to school. Nothing makes Ortega leave his house. Ortega wants to live. Be smart, be like Ortega,” is the ironic message on Nicaragua’s social media, but that also serves as a model to follow when battling the coronavirus.
Ortega, 75 and his wife and vice-president of Nicaragua, Rosario Murillo, 69, haven’t been seen participating in any public event since February 21, the taking of possession of General Julio Cesar Aviles of his third consecutive term for another five years as commander in chief of the Nicaraguan army.
Also absent were Ortega and Murillo in the march/rally organized by the government on March 14th called, “Love in the Time of Covid-19”, in Managua, attended by thousands of Sandinista sympathizers and public employees. Also absent were organizers and leaders, of the even or their children who had participated in previous marches.
The opposition calls Ortega inept and a coward. “Do they know why Ortega doesn’t show his face during Nicaragua’s coronavirus crisis? Because he’s an inept coward and doesn’t know what to say in a crisis like this, and hides, but for his followers, he’s a God who speaks through his priest [Murillo],” wrote the opposition politician Eliseo Nuñez in a tweet.
Murillo has been at the front of the coronavirus pandemic in Nicaragua, organizing, marshaling the troops, if you will, even though she hasn’t shown up in person for meetings, but communicates by telephone calls to television stations where she reported the two confirmed cases of covid-19 in the country and on Thursday, the first death.
Critics say the fear of being infected keeps the presidential couple, who for their age are among the population most vulnerable to this virus.
Supporters and defenders justify the absence, arguing that he has delegated the duty of informing his wife and that of prevention to Health authorities.
“And Ortega? Why doesn’t he show up at all? He hides his face, his government is negligent and irresponsible, putting the life of the people of Nicaragua in danger,” said Dora Maria Tellez the former Minister of Health during the first Sandinista government in the 1980s.
Tellez, presently a dissident, characterized Murillo’s behavior as “criminal conduct to convene people through a microphone to expose themselves to coronavirus” by promoting a day of house-to-house visits to combat coronavirus.
With two confirmed cases, one death and 14 suspected, the government of Ortega and Murillo has not declared an alert nor restrictions, unlike the rest of Central America. In Nicaragua there is no emergency for the pandemic, schools are open, the borders are open, in fact the government is inviting tourism.
The government promotes a campaign of small sanitation brigades, accompanied by police, visiting house-to-house all over the country, with no protective mask or gloves, with the objective of distributing information about how to take care of health in the face of Covid-19.
Thousands of families have rejected the campaign by not opening their doors to them.
With the lack of government preventive measures, the absence of Ortega and Murillo in public, other health vigilance, the Nicaraguan people have resorted to acting on their own, based on the recommendations of the World Health Organization (WHO).
With notes from Confidencial and La Prensa.