Daniel Ortega dismissed the accelerated increase of deaths and contagions due to the resurgence of covid-19, which has reached the limit of the capacity of Nicaraguan hospitals; instead, he called on the population to go outside with “caution”. According to the president, the citizens have faced the pandemic “with great responsibility, aware that closing oneself in is like burying one’s head like an ostrich and dying”.
“The solution… as has been demonstrated in countries that wanted to force people, even imprisoning those who did not comply with the confinement; that was not the solution. Rather, it caused more deaths, and intra-family problems (…) You have to know how to go out in the street, doing it carefully, you have to know how to go to work, doing it carefully. Every day, even without an epidemic, if you don’t walk carefully, there is death by accident,” said Ortega during the 37th anniversary of the founding of the Special Operations Directorate (DOEP) on Monday.
Since the beginning of the pandemic, the Ortega government has disregarded the call of international health organizations, which recommend distancing as a measure to avoid the spread of the coronavirus.
During his speech, Daniel Ortega focused on emphasizing the importance of stability and peace. “Let’s imagine ourselves with this pandemic in a situation like that of April 2018. Peace is decisive and peace is guaranteed by the State with its institutions, such as the Police and the Army, special forces such as the DOEP are decisive to ensure peace and stability,” said the president, accompanied by the high command of the Police, headed by the general director, first commissioner Francisco Diaz, who together with the rest of the DOEP cadres, swore loyalty to the supreme chief of the institution in his speech.
The same institution celebrated by Ortega, has been singled out along with his government for multiple human rights violations in the context of the 2018 protests, and according to the report of the Interdisciplinary Group of Independent Experts (GIEI), the Police and Ortega should be investigated for committing crimes against humanity.
Daniel Ortega: Banker “laundered money and sowed terror”
In a 46 minute speech, which was relatively short compared to the usual expositions on colonization and Yankee intervention, Ortega lashed out against political prisoners and the Catholic Church. He accused the former, without evidence, of financing the roadblocks in 2018, and called the priests “terrorists in cassocks” and “demons”.
“The terrorists in coat and tie, who commanded and paid the gang members to commit outrages and crimes (…) received money from the empire and laundered that money to develop these terrorist activities” said the president, referring to the imprisoned opponents.
President Daniel Ortega justified the arbitrary detentions of the 35 opponents, among them, seven presidential aspiring candidates, assuring that “justice is being done against the terrorists”, who “were preparing to repeat history” – alluding to 2018.
Regarding the executive president of Banco de la Producción (Banpro), Luis Rivas, he said that he”laundered money and sowed terror”.
This Monday, the banker was charged by the Public Prosecutor’s Office for crimes of “illegal carrying or possession of firearms; manufacture, trafficking, possession and use of restricted weapons, explosive substances or devices and conspiracy to commit undermining national integrity”.
Last Tuesday, the U.S. Government accused the Ortega regime of trying to intimidate financial institutions after the accounts of Nicaraguan officials who have been sanctioned were blocked, and gave the case of the arrest and prosecution of Luis Rivas as an example.
The vaccination business
The demand from the population to be vaccinated against covid-19 has been demonstrated in long lines of people waiting to be inoculated. And although Nicaragua is one of the countries with more experience in vaccination campaigns compared to its Central American counterparts, it has lagged behind the continent in the application and acquisition of vaccines.
Daniel Ortega excused himself by saying that “vaccines are the best business that has been installed in the world at this moment” and that developed countries are the ones that have the capacity to pay any price to pharmaceutical companies. However, the country has one hundred million dollars to guarantee the acquisition of 6.86 million doses of covid-19 vaccines, but so far it is not known how the bilateral purchases are progressing, in addition to the contract with Russia for 1.9 million Sputnik V.
This article was originally published in Spanish in Confidencial and translated by our staff