Nicaragua responds to Costa Rica COVID testing by closing border

On Monday, Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega announced his decision to closed the border between Costa Rica and his country. The decision came less than two weeks after Costa Rica implemented a policy requiring all truck drivers entering the country to test negative for COVID-19, according to the Associated Press.

  • Sixty-one truckers tested positive with most coming from Nicaragua.
  • More than 1,000 trucks are stuck at Costa Rica’s borders with Nicaragua and Panama.

Pushback

La Prensa reports that some business groups are calling on Costa Rica to reverse its policy.

  • The Federation of Chambers and Associations of Exporters of Central America and the Caribbean said the policy would negatively affect Costa Rican industry which relies on imported materials.

Vice President, and first lady, Rosario Murillo, derided Nicaragua’s southern neighbor for its decision, according to La Prensa.

  • “Countries that call themselves European where the identity and idiosyncrasies of the native peoples are despised. They call us Indians,” said Murillo.

Context

During the pandemic, Nicaragua has not implemented the social distancing and testing measures common throughout Central America. According to government data reported to the World Health Organization, Nicaragua has only 25 cases of COVID-19.

  • Last month Human Rights Watch characterized the government’s response as “reckless.”
  • Writing for Foreign Policy in April, Kal Thaler, an assistant professor at the University fo Californai, Santa Barbara, laid the blame for the future crisis in Nicaragua squarely at the feet of Ortega and Murillo and their authoritarian policies.
  • Al Jazeera reports that the government is ordering express burials of less than three hours in an effort to hide the true number of coronavirus cases and deaths, which could potentially be as high as 1,270 and 266, respectively.

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