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The dictatorship remains with its arms crossed regarding the coronavirus (English and Spanish only)

By Sandinista Renovation Movement (MRS), Nicaragua, Suyen Barahona

For the last few weeks, the majority of the Nicaraguan people have united around the objective to prevent widespread contagion of the coronavirus. Thousands of families have practiced rigorous hygienic and sanitary measures. There have been actions of solidarity to support those with most need.

The regime of the Ortega Murillo family, despite having the control of all state institutions, has acted in the opposite way. They have disseminated false news, disqualifying and downplaying the possible impact that the disease may have on people and on society. They have promoted all sorts of activities that contribute to an accelerated propagation of the virus; they have forced children to attend school and have threatened teachers; they have prohibited the use of protective gear for health personnel. The regime has promoted a campaign of criminalization against the use of protective masks. Anybody who uses them is accused of being part of those who promote a “coup”. The regime has convened its supporters to mass activities that put at risk their health, and those of their families and communities. Repression has now extended against those who promote prevention and healthcare.

While companies and businesses of all sizes are shutting down and economic activity dangerously decreases, severely impacting the jobs and income of thousands of families, the dictatorship remains with its arms crossed. Thousands of elderly people, who are currently in high risk and vulnerable situations along with families in poverty, are being neglected, left to their fortune and the solidarity of their neighbors. The needs of the population and the objectives of the dictatorship are diametrically opposed.

The dictatorship is only interested in taking advantage of the coronavirus pandemic so that it can evade sanctions, have access to resources that would oxygenate it and allow it to remain in power.

The Nicaraguan people need international support to face the pandemic, for the protection of those who are more vulnerable, but we do not trust the dictatorship in managing these funds. These funds without any doubt would be used to strengthen the repressive apparatus of the regime, to fund clientelist and demagogic programs, delivering help only to its partisans, all in the name of the comrade Ortega and comrade Murillo. Given this, any funds that are obtained should be duly controlled through strict mechanisms of international and national supervision to ensure that these are indeed used exclusively to mitigate the effects of the pandemic to the benefit of all Nicaraguans.

There are some that talk about the need for a “truce” with the regime so that we focus on combatting the pandemic, but this does not make any sense. In Nicaragua, there is no war, nor anything that looks like it to have the need to talk about a truce. What has occurred here is a systematic and incessant attack by the Ortega Murillo regime against the Nicaraguan people, which has caused hundreds of deaths, thousands of wounded and injured, thousands of kidnapped and jailed, tens of thousands of exiles, stolen media outlets and thousands of people being persecuted. The dictatorship continues to confiscate the rights of the Nicaraguan people through police repression. The month of April, precisely, marks the second anniversary of the first assassination of young people that were protesting demanding freedom for Nicaragua. We owe them and those who were killed afterwards decisive action in this new moment of crisis.

The Nicaraguan people do not need a “truce”. We need freedom for political prisoners, the reestablishment of all of our rights and freedoms, the safe return for exiles, justice for those responsible for crimes, and a country with democracy.

We demand that the regime assumes its responsibilities to control the coronavirus pandemic. That it takes action in providing health care to those who need it, without any form of discrimination; in the protection of all persons and families facing the most vulnerable and risky conditions; in the appropriate protection of healthcare personnel. We demand that the regime assumes its responsibility with actions that protect the employment and income of families.

We demand transparency, accountability, fair and equal treatment; that all repression ceases and that the regime complies with the agreements that it signed on March 2019. The Nicaraguan people, now more than ever need to democratize the country.

It is a mistake, in the best of cases, to believe that this is not a political issue; on the contrary, it is explicitly political because the political decisions of the dictatorship are the ones that have left us unprotected against the pandemic and have accelerated the deterioration of the quality of life of the population. The only way to alleviate the crisis that we are suffering and has dramatically worsened due to the pandemic is to have a democratic and responsible government, one that can unite and convene all people, including the supporters of the regime; a government that joins forces so that everybody can be safer, better protected, in order to overcome the consequences of this very serious crisis.

In the meantime, it is our duty to act from our families, neighborhoods, counties and workplaces to prevent the contagion of the coronavirus, multiplying solidarity in every space, in every place, in every opportunity.