He was one of many key leaders of Nicaragua’s revolutionary Sandinista motion that drove the dictatorial Somoza clan from energy.

But within the battle in opposition to coronavirus, Daniel Ortega has been invisible, sparking wild hypothesis over whether or not Nicaragua’s septuagenarian chief is self-isolating, bed-bound in hospital – or might even have died.

It has been nearly a month for the reason that 74-year-old leftist was final seen in public – and with the political rumour-mill in overdrive one distinguished opponent this week gave him a deadline of 9.30am on Thursday to point out his face.

“Nicaraguans must know the truth about the reasons for his absence,” tweeted Álvaro Leiva Sánchez, a human rights activist pressured into exile by the brutal political crackdown that adopted the failed 2018 rebellion in opposition to Ortega and left greater than 300 lifeless.

Nicaragua’s president was final seen on 12 March when he dialled into a convention name to debate coronavirus with fellow Central American leaders, though Leiva claimed he had not been seen out and about since 21 February.

The former insurgent’s retreat has triggered anger and confusion at a time when Central America’s largest nation is going through a pandemic that has claimed greater than 80,000 lives worldwide.

“Analysts fear that behind his prolonged disappearance lies a macabre plan,” a conspiratorial article within the opposition newspaper La Prensa declared this week.

Félix Maradiaga, a distinguished opposition activist, stated it was doable Ortega – who has dominated Nicaragua since 2007 – was struggling a real well being downside.

But Maradiaga stated Ortega had pulled vanishing acts earlier than as a part of a “media strategy” designed “to strengthen the cult of personality around him”.

Ortega’s tendency to slide off the map has fuelled longstanding rumours over the state of his well being and earned him the nickname “el gobernante ausente” (the absent ruler) within the Nicaraguan press.

In Ortega’s absence Nicaragua’s coronavirus response has been publicly steered by his vice-president and spouse, Rosario Murillo, an eccentric and broadly reviled poet who many see as the nation’s actual ruler.

That response has been deeply controversial: Nicaragua’s authorities has declined to shut the nation’s colleges, retailers or borders and even sponsored large-scale political rallies together with a current march by Managua referred to as “Love in a Time of Covid-19”.

While a lot of Latin America is in a state or partial or whole shutdown, Nicaraguan authorities propaganda web sites proceed to advertise food festivals, magnificence pageants and even using outdoor paddling pools.

The well being ministry insists there was no community transmission and has recorded solely a handful circumstances of an infection and one dying – though many doubt these claims.

But on Tuesday the Pan American Health Organization publicly questioned Nicaragua’s response. “We have concerns for the lack of social distancing, the convening of mass gatherings. We have concerns about the testing, contact tracing, the reporting of cases. We also have concerns about what we see as inadequate infection prevention and control,” said Carissa Etienne, its Dominican director.

Nicaragua’s posture has drawn unflattering comparisons to Brazil’s far-right president, Jair Bolsonaro, who has confronted international condemnation for dismissing coronavirus as a media “trick” – though it has already killed 667 Brazilians.

“Bolsonaro is putting the health of Brazil’s people at risk,” the Brazilian correspondent Sylvia Colombo wrote this week in an article evaluating the Brazilian and Nicaraguan responses.

“But in other parts of the world mankind manages to be even worse … It’s as if [Nicaragua’s] regime actually wanted to rid itself of part of the population,” Colombo wrote.

Carlos Quant Durán, one among Nicaragua’s high specialists in infectious illnesses, stated Ortega’s authorities had did not take correct containment measures earlier than coronavirus entered the nation and was now failing to cease its unfold.

“The state is obliged to try and reduce the risk of contagion: to avoid holding mass events, to close places where lots of people gather, like schools and universities. But the government has failed to do this,” Quant Durán stated.

The sociologist Elvira Cuadra branded Nicaragua’s technique “irresponsible and criminal”.

Nicaragua’s authorities has made no official touch upon Ortega’s whereabouts however in each day broadcasts Murillo has insisted he continues to guide the nation and sends “affectionate hugs” to the Nicaraguan individuals.

Maradiaga claimed the previous revolutionary hero had grow to be so indifferent from the individuals he claimed to characterize that, in some methods, his absence hardly mattered in any respect.

“He’s been in a state of permanent quarantine for years, showing interest in nothing but himself and those around him.”

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