The regime of Daniel Ortega and Rosario Murillo continue paddling against the current in terms of preventing the Coronavirus. Vice President Murillo ordered a “broadening and developing” of all the events planned for her summer campaign, called “Summer 2020: Nicaragua Completely Sweet, with Love for You.”
The plans for the traditional Easter season vacations include gatherings such as “fairs, competitions, runway events and endeavors” among other activities “appropriate for the season, within the logic of our Creative, Family-oriented, Popular Economy and our Local Culture,” said the First Lady, vice president, government coordinator and only spokesperson.
These activities are completely the opposite of the closing of borders, quarantines and attempts to avoid crowds that have been enacted by other countries, whether or not they have confirmed cases of Covid-19.
Vice President Murillo issued a broad memorandum on Sunday, directed at the entire State apparatus, the Sandinista political secretaries, the official media, the National Assembly and the diplomatic corps. In the document, the first lady states that the priority “in these moments is national and regional tourism, and also, insofar as possible, they who come to us from afar.”
“We must give full potential to promotion [of tourism] in all its forms, because we know how much Work, Effort and Creativity is dedicated to this Season that represents enjoyment for some, Honest Work and Family Well-being for so many,” the vice president affirmed.
Historically, Easter Week is one of the most vital seasons for the national economy. Following the grave socio-political crisis caused by the police and paramilitary violence, the Ortega-Murillo regime are trying to revive the economy with their model of “creative economy”. With the pandemic of the Coronavirus spreading rapidly in Central America, the Sandinista administration has refused to impose a preventive quarantine, under the arguments that “thank God there aren’t any confirmed cases.”
This past Monday, March 16, the Nicaraguan Episcopal Council informed that they would limit the Easter Week religious celebrations due to Covid-19. The bishops asked that worshippers “most vulnerable to contagion” abstain from attending the masses and processions and stated that the communion wafers would be placed in the hands and not in the mouth.
But for her part, Murillo instead encouraged people to participate in the religious celebrations, “natural Presence, according to the Faith of our People, in all the Religious Services, Traditions and Events of the Season.”
Throughout the memorandum, Murillo emphasizes that they will maintain “all the plans that multiply Hope and Fulfillment, and at the same time we will care for and comply with all the Indications of Preventive Education so that Health will prevail.”
On Saturday, March 14, in the port city of Corinto, on Nicaragua’s Pacific coast, the Tourism Institute received hundreds of tourists on board the cruise ship Amadea, which had passed through Mexico, Guatemala and El Salvador. Meanwhile, Anasha Campbell, co-director of the Nicaraguan Tourism Institute announced this Monday that they have planned 80 activities in the context of Easter Week. Among these are a marathon at the Salvador Allende port, a tent evangelical mass in Old Leon, concerts and street parties.
Prevention plans vague
Regarding the government prevention plans for the pandemic, Murillo’s memorandum is vague. “We’re going to guarantee through the Specialized Institutions, the permanent transmission of all the Indications and Measures that come out of the National, Regional and World Health Authorities,” states the document.
For her part, Minister of Health Carolina Davila Murillo issued a statement highlighting that the country will not declare a quarantine. She affirms that if cases present “with respiratory symptoms and epidemiological links,” the individual will be admitted to a special health unit for study. If there are indications of the Coronavirus the patient will be admitted to the established medical unit.”
“For people coming from countries at risk for transmission as established by the WHO, but without symptoms, there will be no restriction on their movement and dispersion within the country,” the Minister assured. This communique from the Health Ministry was at odds with the warning issued by her specialists, who offered a possible scenario of some 32,500 infected cases and 813 deaths in Nicaragua within the next six months.
Ministry of Education will not suspend classes
The Education Ministry issued a guide to educational personnel for avoiding the propagation of the virus. Although the document gives general information about Covid-19 and a series of measures like washing hands and avoiding “crowds”, the Ministry will not be suspending classes or workshops for teachers.
Instead, in case of “eventuality” they recommend that teachers use technologies like Facebook Live or WhatsApp to continue the academic year.
In a tone that was more political than technical, Vice President Murillo stated in her memorandum that they’re going to “work at the level of all the State and Government Entities to assure all the Plans and Programs of this Year of Grace 2020, as well as that preventive and protective reproduction [of information] to continue realizing all the contention efforts”.