In late 2021, three decades after the end of Nicaragua’s civil war, the government cracked down harshly on opposition parties and staged a rigged election that confirmed President Daniel Ortega’s intention to establish a dynastic authoritarian regime. Thousands have fled the country since 2018, when a mass uprising spurred by an unpopular reform to the social security system was met with state violence, resulting in hundreds of deaths. Through its fieldwork and advocacy, Crisis Group seeks to contribute to a negotiated exit from the crisis and prevent further bloodshed.
This week on Hold your Fire! Richard Atwood and Naz Modirzadeh talk to Crisis Group experts Tiziano Breda and Ivan Briscoe about politics in El Salvador, Nicaragua and Honduras and why Central Americans are leaving for the United States.
Govt crackdown continued, notably targeting figures within Catholic Church; President Ortega strengthened ties with Iran.
Several figures from Catholic Church fled country, fearing persecution. Amid crackdown on Catholic Church, presbyters Luis Masís Velásquez and Bayardo Antonio Rugama from Diocese of Bluefields 12 June fled country to avoid imprisonment. U.S. senators 8 June introduced bill to extend sanctions on Nicaragua until end of 2028, which includes proscriptions against those responsible for violations against religious believers. UN human rights office 21 June warned “persecution of members of the Catholic church has intensified” in recent months.
Broader govt crackdown continued. VP Murillo 2 June announced “citizen security” scheme whereby police are authorised to enter people’s homes, which critics denounced as a surveillance program. Ortega govt 9 June confiscated assets belonging to the 222 political prisoners exiled in Feb. After revoking legal status of Red Cross in May, Parliament 1-2 June approved creation of White Cross organisation, transferring all Red Cross assets to state and bringing new organisation under Ministry of Health’s administration.
In other important developments. Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi 13 June visited President Ortega in capital Managua, where both criticised U.S. sanctions. Parliament 15 June authorised entry of Russian, Cuban, U.S., Mexican and Venezuelan troops, ships and aircraft into country; govt said their presence is aimed at strengthening aid deliveries and combating organised crime.
[Nicaraguan President Ortega] would prefer to revert to a steady, low-level authoritarian government in which there are perhaps none of the more visible forms of abuses b...
This virtual roundtable assesses the risks of turmoil and political violence, the aggravation of the country’s humanitarian predicament resulting in a surge of emigration and its significance for the region’s democratic backslide.
Nicaragua's President Daniel Ortega and his wife, Vice President Rosario Murillo, have arrested more than 30 high-level opponents in recent weeks. In this commentary for Global Americans, Crisis Group's Central America Analyst Tiziano Breda explains what's at stake.
With Nicaraguans heading to the polls in November, the government is already trying to engineer the outcome in its favour. An unfair ballot could spark unrest and a violent crackdown. External actors should push for reforms and dialogue with the opposition while eschewing counterproductive sanctions.
As the coronavirus spreads, and the U.S. presidential election looms, the Trump administration and Mexican government continue to deport migrants from El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras. Some deportees are carrying the virus. Central American states should press their northern neighbours for more stringent health measures.
Political repression and economic hardship are pushing Nicaragua toward a low-intensity, protracted conflict. In this excerpt from our Watch List 2019 - Third Update for European policymakers, Crisis Group urges the EU to press for compliance with earlier agreements and a fresh round of negotiations that can help the country out of this deadly standoff.
Watch List Updates complement International Crisis Group’s annual Watch List, most recently published in January 2019. These early-warning publications identify major conflict situations in which prompt action, driven or supported by the European Union and its member states, would generate stronger prospects for peace. The third update to the Watch List 2019 includes entries on Afghanistan, Nicaragua, Sudan and Yemen.
President Daniel Ortega’s government has released almost all political prisoners held since Nicaragua’s April 2018 uprising. It should stay this course, honouring its other commitments to the opposition in national dialogue. International actors should promise consequences if the government drags its feet.
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