Nicaragua is the only country on the continent to promote sporting events with mass spectators during the COVID-19 pandemic. According to Nicaraguan-born former major league pitcher Dennis Martinez, in the world of international sports today these activities are seen as “ridiculous, inconceivable and absurd”.
Since the first case of COVID-19 in Nicaragua was confirmed on March 18, the government has failed to implement any measures of social distancing to help slow contagion and the spread of the virus. On the contrary, the regime has promoted sporting events, such as boxing matches and the national baseball league continues unabated.
“That doesn’t go with the norms that are being applied [elsewhere] and that the World Health Organization is indicating,” stated Martinez on the internet television news program Esta Semana.
Martinez, one of the great glories of Nicaraguan sports, affirms that Nicaraguan athletes are currently under pressure, obligated to continue with the “normal” sporting events: “they fine them, they punish them, they sanction them. It’s something I can’t see the sense of, that’s risking the lives of the youth,” said the former Major Leaguer.
At the same time, Martinez invited the government of Nicaragua to “increase their awareness” and see “the reality” of what’s happening, in order to confront the pandemic before the country faces a huge death toll.
Solidarity with health personnel in Nicaragua
Martinez, who pitched the 13th perfect game in Major League Baseball history in 1991, heads an international solidarity campaign to raise money for protective equipment for doctors and health personnel on the frontlines of the COVID-19 pandemic in Nicaragua.
In alliance with organizations of Nicaraguans living in the United States, such as the Nicaraguan-American Medical Association [Asociación Médica Nicaragüense-Americana], and the organization Grandmothers from Nicaragua [AbueNica Inc.] they have the goal of raising US $50,000 in the coming days to buy medical-grade protective equipment to be donated to health professionals in the upcoming weeks.
Dr. Oscar Danilo Pozo, president of the Nicaraguan-American Medical Association, highlighted the fact that the doctors in Nicaragua are well informed about the pandemic, and that they’re “capable” of dealing with it. However, he recognizes that they don’t have adequate protective equipment. “They’re on the frontlines, and they’re the first ones who should be protected, so they can offer the protection that our people need,” he declared.
In the last few days, medical sources have confirmed to Confidencial that dozens of doctors and auxiliary health personnel in the country’s public hospitals have been infected with COVID-19 due to the lack of protective measures and of a structured strategy on the part of the Ministry of Health.
The solidarity campaign hopes to buy robes, facemasks, shoe coverings and caps, among other basic protective equipment. These would be made available to “all the health personnel that wish to serve the people,” according to Dr. Pozo. The Nicaraguan diaspora in the United States has set up a public GoFundMe page, where people can donate electronically.