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Copia%20de%20Comunidades%20ind%C3%ADgena
Copia%20de%20Comunidades%20ind%C3%ADgena

Since the announcement of the first COVID-19 case in Nicaragua on March 18, nearly 20 communities, mainly indigenous and Afro-descendant, have declared themselves in self-quarantine or confinement. The inability of state institutions and the government's unwillingness to take action to control the spread and effects of the pandemic in the country, add to the conditions of social exclusion and inequality that already existed in these populations.

 

These acts of self-protection once again highlight the historical reality of abandonment experienced by Indigenous and Afro-descendant communities throughout the country. The State, its institutions, and even the private sector not only abandon these communities, but they are also the originators of most of their vulnerabilities.

 

The country's indigenous and Afro-descendant communities consistently denounce that they do not have direct voices in political and decision-making spaces, making them null and void in the face of the actions being taken, or should betaken, in the context of the pandemic of the new coronavirus or in the face of any other local or national crisis.

Copia%20de%20Comunidades%20ind%C3%ADgena

"You still hear the gunshots and people haven't forgotten their dead, although now there are new victims. They are victims of the virus and dictatorship," says Mauricio, a 24-year-old who self-identifies as Ocanxiu indigenous and who lives in the hard-hit neighborhood of Sutiaba, León. "The Government is more interested in repressing the most vulnerable and shutting up dissenting voices. In Sutiaba, and I am sure in other neighborhoods and communities, neither the MINSA - Ministry of Health - nor any other institution has ever arrived to collect information or at least to speak about the virus that is killing us," added the young man, who has been renamed to protect his identity due to the escalation of violence and siege against former political prisoners and other individuals not related with the government across the country.

 

In the context of the pandemic, with great courage and effort, several independent media outlets in the country portrayed how indigenous and Afro-descendant communities, mainly from the Caribbean Coast, confront the new coronavirus and other life-threatening conditions that impact the elderly people of many families alone and without basic resources. In the Pacific region of the country, the story is no less dramatic or painful.

 

"I was afraid to arrive at the Osman Rios -Health Post in Sutiaba - because I didn't know if I was going to leave sicker if I was going to be withhold a lot of time because of the confinement," says a merchant living in the Sutiaba neighborhood and working in a popular area of León, a municipality that has already reports more than 130 suspicious deaths by Covid-19 according to data from the Covid-19 Citizen Observatory in Nicaragua, which has served as an alternative to documenting the impact of the pandemic and is a reference for the World Health Organization (WHO).

 

Enrique Beteta, an official at MINSA, said that at the at the end of 2019 more than 5,200 citizens had been cared for at that health center in Sutiaba. When attempting to obtain information on the number of cases and persons attended for Covid-19 at that medical center, local workers simply told the Conyuntura team that "that information can be obtained from the Ministry [of Health]".

 

Mauricio claims that at the end of July the virus was spreading in a zone of the city with many street food establishments. "In my house we have been taking care of ourselves since before the firstcase because we knew that the government would do nothing. Since I am the stubborn one in the family, I went to lunch with a friend because I was tired of being locked up, and five days later it turns out I lose my senses of smell and taste. I isolated myself in my room and there I became ill," said the young man, who also said that in hospitals they work with "stealth, but not professional".

 

"I arrived because I was so sick. Hardly anyone dares to go to the hospitals, but I did it because I was so afraid. At HEODRA -Hospital Escuela Oscar Danilo Rosales Argoello - it's all silence and fear. Three days after my consultation I received a call from MINSA and was only asked 'how I feel'," Mauritius added.

 

Conyuntura requested information from the HEODRA medical team on the number of cases, the conditions of people still in the Covid-19 unit, and the aggregated data on the indigenous population served during the pandemic. Once again we were redirected to MINSA.