Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega beat his own record of days absent from the public eye on July 15th: 35 days (now 38). His disappearing comes as the health crisis worsens due to the spread of the COVID-19 contagion and the exponential increase in deaths due to the virus, without the Government having taken actions to prevent and contain the pandemic.
Ortega’s last public appearance was on June 10th, when he participated in a virtual conference of the ALBA group on the economy after the pandemic. In his only intervention, the Sandinista leader complained about international sanctions against his relatives and closest officials, which he has described as “extreme” and “radical”.
The president’s absences have been common during his 13 years in power; However, in the pandemic months, the two most extensive have occurred, which contrasted with the rest of the Central American presidents who took the lead in the response to the coronavirus in their countries.
Surge in Coronavirus infections and deaths
On June 10, the last time Ortega was seen on TV, the government reported 1,464 positive cases of COVID-19 and some 55 deaths related to the new coronavirus, according to figures from the Ministry of Health (Minsa). However, the independent Citizens Covid-19 Observatory recorded at least 5027 suspected cases and 1,114 deaths related to the pandemic.
During the absence of the leader, the official number of infected and dead has doubled. In its weekly report on Tuesday, July 14, Minsa reported 3,147 positive cases and 99 deaths from COVID-19 have been reported, since the announcement of the first case in Nicaragua on March 18.
Meanwhile, the death toll of the Citizens Covid-19 Observatory is more than 20 times higher than that of the Minsa. The initiative records 2,225 deaths linked to COVID-19; while registering some 7893 suspicious cases, according to its latest report, dated July 10.