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National Coalition Launches Coronavirus Emergency Committee

They demand elimination of taxes on cleaning supplies, the protection of nursing homes and the release of sick prisoners

The National Coalition, which brings together the main dissident groups and parties in Nicaragua, demanded Friday that the Ortega government take preventive measures in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic. It also announced the creation of an coronavirus emergency committee, since the state has failed to do so.

The National Coalition criticized the government of President Daniel Ortega for having “minimal preventive actions.” After reports for the first case of COVID-9 in the country, they decided to take the initiative, representatives reported at a press conference.

“Nicaragua, like the rest of the world, is experiencing the coronavirus pandemic. The indolence with which the Ortega-Murillo dictatorship acts by hiding information and wanting to impose (…) an environment of security and normality, contradicts any logic or protocol of attention in this matter,” said Tamara Davila one of the Coalition representatives.

The National Coalition, made up of the three largest civilian movements in Nicaragua and four political parties, demanded that Ortega suspend massive events and agglomerations, care for vulnerable sectors, and suspend non-essential institutional work.

It also demanded access to and elimination of taxes on cleaning supplies, the protection of nursing homes, the release of any ill prisoners and a protection program inside prisons.

The government opponents demanded the suspension of activities during Holy Week (April 5-12), the closure of nightclubs and bars, as well as borders, except for the transport of goods.

They asked to streamline procedures to import reagents and medicines, suspend classes, reduce the rates of public services and fuels, a suspension of water and electricity cuts, extend the date for the collection of the property tax, and guarantee that social security clinics are ready to attend the patients.

In addition, they asked for transparent data on the pandemic in Nicaragua; to give workers adequate protection equipment, and to guarantee reagents in hospitals. Likewise, to freeze loan payments for those affected, and to establish a support program for companies to sustain jobs.

“We’ve created an Emergency Committee made up of professionals and experts in health, finance, economy, social welfare and laws that contribute to evaluating the situation of the epidemic and the measures to be promoted within this framework,” announced the Coalition.

Through the committee, the opposition will provide “recommendations, so that hand in hand with citizens we can prevent and defeat the coronavirus,” it said.

Critical situation

The first case of COVID-19 was announced Wednesday March 18, in Nicaragua, [the second on Friday] a country experiencing a profound crisis since the popular uprising against Ortega in 2018, which was controlled with the armed actions of the Police and paramilitary that left hundreds of protesters dead, as well as hundreds imprisoned or disappeared.

The Ortega government claims to have taken surveillance and education measures on COVID-19, however, it is being accused of not abiding by the prevention standards recommended by the World Health Organization (WHO).

“We believe, as a National Coalition, that the precariousness of the State and the Ministry of Health in a context of dictatorship, makes the situation into a time bomb, mainly for the elderly,” said opposition leader Juan Sebastian Chamorro.

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