Daniel Ortega, who has been absent for increasingly longer periods, has accumulated his first month of absence since his last public event on December 27, 2023, and has not made any appearance so far in 2024.
At 78 years of age and with more than 17 consecutive years in power – since his return to the Presidency in January 2007 – Ortega is increasingly reducing his public appearances. They are limited to birthdays or death anniversaries of national figures, anniversaries, or graduations of the Police and the Army – obedient executors and accomplices of the repression under more than five years of the de facto police state –, a few protocol events and fewer and fewer official visits.
Murillo's Omnipresence and Laureano's Rise
In contrast, since Ortega’s last public appearance, his wife Rosario Murillo, vice president and spokesperson of the regime, has had 21 monologues through the Ortega propaganda media. The speeches last from 6 to 29 minutes, totaling more than 5 hours with 11 minutes of interventions, which she uses to talk about the weather and the saints of the day, or to spread her hate speech systematically.
Another person becoming increasingly active – in contrast with the absence of the ruler and the monologues of the vice-president – is the son of the dictatorial couple, Laureano Ortega Murillo, appointed “presidential advisor for the promotion of investments, trade and international cooperation.”
From January 2 to 24, Laureano has been seen on camera in several activities:
- Reacting to Chinese President Xi Jinping's New Year message on January 2.
- Highlighting the new FTA and the “strengthening of the strategic alliance” with China, in a 25-minute interview on the pro-government Channel 4, on January 11.
- In an official meeting with South Ossetian Ambassador Karim Kozaev on January 15.
- At the signing of a memorandum of cooperation with the Eurasian Economic Commission, together with the Russian Minister for Integration and Macroeconomics, Sergei Glazyev, on January 17.
- At the reception of a delegation of the Council of Ministers of the Republic of Crimea and the Mayor's Office of Yalta on January 23.
- At the signing of a trade and economic cooperation agreement with the delegations of Crimea and Yalta, January 24.
The latest appearances of Daniel Ortega
Daniel Ortega's last appearances were a family event and three public acts in December 2023.
The family event was the customary celebration of La Purísima, with his children and grandchildren at his residence and office on December 7. For those who criticized his restricted family celebration, the following day the Ortega propaganda media broadcasted images of Laureano Ortega Murillo together with his wife and children, walking and participating smiling in the mechanical games of Puerto Salvador Allende, surrounded by common people and without escorts in the photo.
Ortega's other three appearances were official acts: the twenty-eighth graduation of the Army Military Academy (December 11), the twenty-sixth graduation of cadets of the "Leonel Rugama" Police Academy (December 20), and the commemoration of the 44th anniversary of the founding of the former Ministry of the Interior (December 27), which was used by Ortega to resurrect the extinct Ministry of the Interior and rename that agency.
In January 2024, Ortega did not even appear -as he did on January 9, 2023- for the installation of the new term of the National Assembly. And even less for the annual report of his administration that he should give before the National Assembly and has not given since the first year of his return to power.
Less active and more absent
In the previous months, Daniel Ortega was not very active either. In September 2023 – which is one of the months with the most events – Ortega presided over the ceremony commemorating the 44th anniversary of the Army's foundation on the 4th, and the military parade the following day.
Six days later, on the 11th, he headed the ceremony for the 44th anniversary of the Police, and the following day he received the Central American Independence Torch, and minutes later he witnessed the police parade.
During that “hectic” September of public appearances, two nights later, Ortega's commitment was greeting the parade of the Fiestas Patrias, on September 14. The following day, on the 15th, he gave a speech at the G77 and China Summit in Havana, Cuba.
After that, Ortega did not appear until October 13, for the delivery of 250 buses from the People's Republic of China to transporters of Managua and Ciudad Sandino. In addition to Murillo and her entourage of officials, Ortega attended along with the Chargé d'Affaires of the Chinese Embassy in Managua, Zhou Yi, other diplomatic representatives and representatives of the transportation sector of the capital. He even got on and posed behind the wheel or standing on one of the buses.
From there, he disappeared again from the public sphere until November 8, to commemorate the 47th anniversary of the death of Carlos Fonseca Amador, founder of the now ruling Sandinista Front.
According to his traditional schedule of appearances, Ortega should still be absent for about twenty days, with his next scheduled act on February 21 to commemorate another anniversary of death (or of “transit to immortality,” as his dictatorship prefers to call it), marking the 90th anniversary of the assassination of Augusto C. Sandino.
It would be unusual if, as it happened in 2023, he were to appear days earlier. On January 31 of that year, he appeared to deliver 153 Russian buses to collective transport cooperatives. Or on February 2, when he received a delegation from Iran, headed by Chancellor Hossein Amirabdollahián. Or on the 9th of the same month, when he reappeared to “celebrate” the banishment of 222 political prisoners, in an event that Ortega himself described as “surprising.”