Daniel Ortega was included in a list of the world’s “worst leaders” during the Covid-19 pandemic. Others mentioned were presidents Jair Bolsonaro, from Brazil, and Donald Trump, from the United States, as well as Belarusian Alexander Lukashenko, who recommended “vodka and saunas” to prevent coronavirus.
- You may want to read: Nothing to Say: Daniel Ortega between the Pandemic and the Vacuum
The list—titled: Which world leader has the worst pandemic record? The competition is fierce—was published in the Op-Ed section of The Washington Post newspaper, written by Frida Ghitis, a columnist and world affairs analyst.
The article describes the response of the Trump Administration to the pandemic as “disastrous.” However, it also acknowledges that the former US president “may not have been the worst leader of the pandemic.”
“Others arguably botched the crisis even worse than Trump did, and the list tells you a lot about the state of global governance,” she adds.
Ghitis highlights that “it is hard to top the response of Nicaragua’s near-eternal President Daniel Ortega and his wife (Rosario Murillo). They responded to news of a pandemic by calling people into the streets for a festive parade they called “Love in the Time of Covid-19.” A perversely fitting allusion to the work of Gabriel García Márquez, whose novels seamlessly blend fact and hallucination.”
“The reckless move horrified human rights activists and scientists alike,” the analyst writes.
Statistics from the Ministry of Health (MINSA) indicate that 178 citizens have died of Covid-19 in Nicaragua, while there have been 6,697 positive cases. However, the independent Citizen Observatory registers 3,014 deaths related to the pandemic and 13,312 suspected cases. [From the beginning no figures on testing have ever been revealed. Likewise a study showed over 9,000 abnormal deaths, probably from Covid-19, were blamed on other causes.]
Other leaders and their attitudes about Covid-19
The columnist points out that Ortega’s response “is hard to top, but not impossible.” She listed examples of other presidents attitudes towards the pandemic. The Brazilian Bolsonaro affirmed that “Brazilians might be immune to the ‘little flu’ because they swim in sewage and nothing happens to them.”
She highlights that Mexican president, Andrés Manuel López Obrador, has “minimized” the pandemic. He rejected wearing a mask in public and advised his fellow citizens “to live life as usual.”
Ghitis also includes in the list dictator Lukashenko, of Belarus, who has said that Covid-19 is a “psychosis.” Additionally, the Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen, who has banned criticism of his handling of the pandemic. Those who complain are arrested.
“It is impossible to cover all the outrages by populist demagogues and assorted tyrants. (Apologies if I left out one you found particularly offensive.) Every world leader made mistakes, but there is something uniquely malignant about the manipulations and deceptions of the most outrageous players,” the analyst writes.