By Ismael Lopez
MANAGUA, April 9 (Reuters). During the devastating civil war in Nicaragua in the 1980s, the young revolutionary Daniel Ortega traveled to every city in the Central American nation, dressed in his green Sandinista uniform.
In his second term as president, the 74-year-old left-wing leader has disappeared from the public eye for almost a month, raising questions about his health and whereabouts as the world spreads through the spread of the corona virus.
As in 2014, when he fell off the card again, his absence has even led to speculation that he may have died.
The government did not respond to a request for comment on the reasons for Ortega’s absence, health, or whether he was alive.
However, a government official near Ortega said he was alive and spoke on condition of anonymity.
Over the years, the former guerrilla suffered two heart attacks and developed high cholesterol and other diseases, the official said. Since then, the president has been increasingly protecting his health, the source said.
Ortega’s last public appearance was on March 12, when he briefly spoke from a living room via video.
“He’s always fled from problems. No wonder he’s absent in the middle of the coronavirus crisis,” said Dora Maria Tellez, a former minister in Ortega’s first government in the 1980s, who later broke with the president.
Ortega also disappeared for a few weeks in 1998 after his adopted stepdaughter accused him of the abuse he was denying.
During his current absence, his wife, Vice President Rosario Murillo, has spoken publicly every day, which has led to speculation that Ortega will show up sometime to monitor a campaign to combat the corona virus.
So far, Nicaragua has not promoted social distancing or other measures against the virus, even though neighboring Honduras and nearby El Salvador have strict restrictions.
Nicaragua has registered seven coronavirus cases and one related death, but experts question the numbers because the government has not released how many tests have been carried out.
Ortega’s health was often a closely guarded secret. Ortega was elected president in 1984 and was elected after a five-year term when the economy stalled. He eventually won re-election and returned to office in 2007.
After planning a constitutional amendment to allow re-elections, his current term ends in 2022. (Reporting by Ismael Lopez, letter from Daina Beth Solomon)