CrisisWatch

Tracking Conflict Worldwide

CrisisWatch is our global conflict tracker, an early warning tool designed to help prevent deadly violence. It keeps decision-makers up-to-date with developments in over 70 conflicts and crises every month, identifying trends and alerting them to risks of escalation and opportunities to advance peace. In addition, CrisisWatch monitors over 50 situations (“standby monitoring”) to offer timely information if developments indicate a drift toward violence or instability. Entries dating back to 2003 provide easily searchable conflict histories.

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January 2024

Latin America & Caribbean

Nicaragua

Govt released nineteen members of Catholic Church and handed them to Vatican; opposition leader suffered assassination attempt. 

Managua handed over nineteen religious leaders to Vatican. Pope Francis 1 Jan used New Year’s Day address to express concern about Ortega regime’s targeting of Catholic Church, saying he was “following with concern what is happening in Nicaragua, where bishops and priests have been deprived of their freedom”, and expressed hope for “dialogue to overcome difficulties”. Govt 14 Jan released nineteen jailed religious leaders, including Bishop Rolando Álvarez, following negotiations and handed them over to Vatican. Meanwhile, govt 16 Jan cancelled legal status of sixteen NGOs, some of them Catholic organisations. 

Opposition leader suffered assassination attempt. Unknown gunmen 10 Jan shot and wounded opposition leader Joao Ismael Maldonado Bermúdez, who has lived in Costa Rica since 2018 govt crackdown, and his partner; attack marked second assassination attempt on Maldonado since his exile. Members of Exiled Nicaraguans in Unity in Costa Rica 12 Jan attributed attack to “hired assassins” of regime.

December 2023

Latin America & Caribbean

Nicaragua

Crackdown on church continued amid international condemnation over human rights violations, and Managua upgraded diplomatic ties with China.

Authorities arrested senior bishop amid continued attacks on Catholic Church. Police 21 Dec arrested Bishop Isidoro Mora of Siuna diocese in north west; Mora day prior had spoken publicly about Bishop Rolando Álvarez, first major clerical figure detained by govt and sentenced in Feb 2023 to 26 years in prison for treason. Authorities 20-30 Dec arrested thirteen priests and two Seminarians.

Ortega regime rejected accusations of human rights violations. UN Human Rights Council 18 Dec held special session on Nicaragua, where Deputy High Commissioner for Human Rights Nada Al-Nashif asked Ortega govt to engage with her office and address human rights violations; govt rejected concerns as misinformation and foreign interference in domestic affairs. Nicaragua same day expelled International Committee of the Red Cross.

Beijing and Managua deepened ties. Nicaragua and China upgraded diplomatic ties, with pair 20 Dec announcing new strategic partnership; Chinese President Xi Jinping same day described move as beginning of relationship modelled on “solidarity, cooperation and mutual benefit”. Ortega and Xi also announced China-Nicaragua Free Trade Agreement will take effect 1 Jan 2024. Earlier, govt 4 Dec recalled Ambassador to Argentina after Argentinian President Javier Milei called Nicaraguan rulers “dictators”.

November 2023

Latin America & Caribbean

Nicaragua

Govt dismissed hundreds of justice officials amid ongoing crackdown; ties with Russia and China deepened as Managua formally withdrew from Organization of American States (OAS).

Govt dismantled judiciary and continued crackdown on civil society. Govt late Oct dismissed President of Supreme Court and dozens of officials in justice system; by 6 Nov had removed 450 officers from posts, including four Supreme Court magistrates; media report 7 Nov suggested vacancies would be filled by loyalist politicians and former members of security forces. Govt 6 Nov proscribed 25 NGOs, including religious institutions and 27 Nov closed or dissolved fifteen others. Indigenous party YATAMA 13 Nov announced it did not know whereabouts of party leaders seized by security forces late Sept.

Managua strengthened ties with Russia and China, and withdrew from OAS. Commander of armed forces 7 Nov visited Russia to negotiate technical cooperation, reiterated support for Russia’s war against Ukraine. Economic Congressional Committee 14 Nov announced National Assembly would soon ratify Free Trade Agreement with China. Meanwhile, Nicaragua 19 Nov formally withdrew from OAS following two-year process launched in 2021 by Ortega regime in response to condemnation from body about rights violations. Ahead of withdrawal, OAS members 8 Nov approved resolution calling for continued monitoring of rights in country.

October 2023

Latin America & Caribbean

Nicaragua

Govt continued to crackdown on opposition and Catholic Church despite sustained international condemnation.

Repression of opposition and Catholic church continued. Following late Sept arrest of Brooklyn Rivera, only indigenous parliament representative, Rivera’s YATAMA party 1 Oct denounced detention and that of fellow politician Nancy Rodriquez. Authorities 3 Oct rescinded YATAMA’s legal status and closed two YATAMA-run radio stations. Govt 12 Oct allocated Rivera’s seat to ruling party politician. Despite Vatican’s late Sept call for diplomatic dialogue, attacks on Catholic church continued. Notably, police and paramilitary groups 1-9 Oct detained six Catholic priests. Govt 18 Oct freed six priests and exiled them to Rome following deal with Vatican. Authorities 24 Oct cancelled legal status of local chapter of Franciscan order and 16 NGOs, many of whom have ties to Catholic Church.

International community kept up pressure on Managua. EU Council 9 Oct extended measures including asset freeze and travel bans on 21 individuals and three entities until Oct 2024. Inter-American Commission on Human Rights 10 Oct briefed Organization of American States (OAS) permanent council about situation in country, saying govt’s actions part of repressive strategy to consolidate power and silence critics. OAS next day condemned situation and called on govt to respect and protect human rights.

In another important development. Nicaraguan Central Bank 17 Oct announced reduction in imports and exports in first eight months of 2023 compared to same period in 2022.

September 2023

Latin America & Caribbean

Nicaragua

Govt continued to stifle dissent and bolster ties with Russia and China amid worsening economic situation.

Repression of opposition, Catholic church and others continued. NGO Mechanism for the Recognition of Political Prisoners 9 Sept identified 89 political prisoners in country. Police 8 Sept arrested priest Osman José Amador Guillén after he expressed support for political prisoner Bishop Rolando Álvarez. Govt 19 Sept announced it had access to all student data from defunct Jesuit-run Central American University, raising concerns about potential harassment of student activists. Fears about treatment of media also increased after army chief 4 Sept labelled all journalists “mercenaries”; according to civil society report 11 Sept, 1,329 violations of press freedom were recorded in Nicaragua over past five years. Meanwhile, UN 11 Sept denounced increased violence against indigenous people in Nicaragua; unidentified settlers next day killed indigenous person in Mayangna Sauni As indigenous area on northern Caribbean coast; authorities 29 Sept arrested Brooklyn Rivera, only indigenous parliament representative, at his home in Bilwi city, Puerto Cabezas (north) on unknown charges.

Managua bolstered ties with China and Russia amid deteriorating economy. Report published by UN Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean 8 Sept highlighted 6% decrease in exports in first six months of 2023, leading to thousands of job losses. Govt continued to strengthen ties with China and Russia in its search for economic lifeline. Notably, parliament 1 Sept ratified free trade agreement with China; Ortega 12 Sept acknowledged Russian military base in Nicaragua is training security forces to fight opposition.

August 2023

Latin America & Caribbean

Nicaragua

Govt crackdown on Catholic Church, political opposition and media persisted.

Authorities targeted Jesuit order amid crackdown on Catholic Church. Govt 9 Aug froze bank accounts and 16 Aug seized assets of Jesuit-run Central American University in capital Managua, accusing institution of being “centre of terrorism”; UN rights office and Jesuit movement same day criticised move. Govt 23 Aug declared Jesuit order illegal and ordered confiscation of all its property over alleged tax reporting issues. U.S. 19 Aug announced sanctions on 100 municipal officials for role in suppression of Catholic Church.

Repression of opposition and independent media continued. Police 2 Aug arrested opposition leader Juan Carlos Baquedano Castro upon his return from exile in Mexico, next day apprehended opposition activist Lester Macolla Solís when he returned from U.S. Court 8 Aug found political prisoner and VP of April 19 University Movement Jasson Salazar Rugama guilty of “undermining national integrity and spreading false news”. Meanwhile, govt 4 Aug expelled Honduran journalist Kenya Volkanoe from country for publishing pro-Christian posts. Collective of media outlets known as Digital Mercenaries 6 Aug said regime used 1,400 social media accounts to serve as disinformation network.

July 2023

Latin America & Caribbean

Nicaragua

Crackdown on Catholic Church continued, and opposition stepped up efforts to unify against Ortega regime.

Govt’s religious persecution persisted. Govt 4 July revoked legal status of Fundación Fraternidad Pobres de Jesucristo and expelled nuns in charge of convent from country. Authorities 10 July arrested Fernando Israel Zamora Silva, chancellor of Siuna diocese, in capital Managua. Govt 27 July revoked legal status of 18 organisations, including several religious groups. Meanwhile, Church officials 5 July said Bishop Rolando Álvarez, sentenced in Feb 2023 to 26 years in prison for treason, remained incarcerated despite reports of his release.

Opposition sought to unify. Following exiled opposition’s late June establishment of Monteverde Group, comprised of different opposition factions to consolidate united anti-Ortega front, group 9 July announced five official spokespersons including former presidential candidates Juan Sebastián Chamorro, Félix Maradiaga and Medardo Mairena.

In other important developments. UN human rights office 7 July condemned 2 and 5 July killings of two Indigenous people on Bosawas nature reserve along Atlantic coast; both victims were park wardens in protected area rife with settlers looking to clear land for farms and illegal mining and logging. International Court of Justice 13 July dismissed Nicaragua’s case in dispute with Colombia over maritime borders and economic rights over area of Caribbean Sea.

June 2023

Latin America & Caribbean

Nicaragua

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.

May 2023

Latin America & Caribbean

Nicaragua

Authorities apprehended dozens of critics, while crackdown on NGOs and Catholic Church persisted.

Authorities arrested and immediately prosecuted dozens of opponents. Authorities 3 May arrested 57 people, most of them govt critics, and arraigned them in “express hearings” at courts in capital, Managua. Govt-aligned judges charged them with “conspiracy to undermine national integrity” and “propagation of false news”, next day ordered their conditional release: they are now required to sign in with their local police station every day. Police 12-14 May carried out another “night hunt”, detaining and hastily prosecuting 18 regime opponents. Meanwhile, seven civil society organisations 24 May demanded immediate release of all political prisoners.

Crackdown on NGOs and Catholic Church continued. Govt 3 May cancelled legal status of 20 NGOs, including eight that requested voluntary dissolution. National Assembly 10 May revoked legal status of local Red Cross Branch, accusing it of violating its own rules on political neutrality during 2018 protests; 19 May revoked legal status of 26 more NGOs, bringing total number banned since April 2018 to nearly 3,500. Meanwhile, govt 18 May closed private Catholic university of Archdiocese in Managua, bringing number closed since Dec 21 to 25. Police 20, 22 May arrested two priests in Nueva Segovia and Estelí departments; 23 May arrested priest from Matagalpa Diocese (north) for “committing acts to undermine the nation’s independence and integrity”.

April 2023

Latin America & Caribbean

Nicaragua

Repression of Catholic Church intensified around Easter celebrations, and opposition leaders called for unity to challenge regime.

Govt crackdown continued. Authorities continued to persecute Catholic Church and its practitioners. Notably, police 3 April harassed youths trying to conduct religious procession in Nindirí municipality, Masaya department. Govt 11 April confiscated monastery of Trappist nuns in San Pedro de Lóvago municipality, Chontales department. Govt next day ordered expulsion of three nuns belonging to Dominican Congregation of the Annunciation, who ran nursing home and school in Rivas department. Civil society organisation Monitoreo Azul y Blanco 10 April denounced 71 cases of religious persecution during Easter week (1-9 April). Meanwhile, govt 24 April closed three private universities, bringing number closed since Dec 2021 to 24. Human rights group Nunca Más 28 April revealed that since 2018 protests, at least 158 people detained have been subjected to torture, 113 of whom were victims of sexual violence by prison guards and police officers.

Opposition leaders acknowledged need for unity to defeat regime. Exiled opposition politicians Violeta Granera, Felix Maradiaga, Ana Margarita Vijil and Lesther Aleman 16 April participated in televised discussion of much-needed changes to opposition’s strategy. Notably, they acknowledged need for “unity in action,” vowing to set aside differences in order to counter regime more effectively.

March 2023

Latin America & Caribbean

Nicaragua

Govt crackdown on civil society and religious institutions persisted, and Ortega suspended diplomatic relations with Vatican.

Govt continued to crackdown on NGOs, business associations and universities. President Ortega 6 March revoked legal status of 18 business associations for “non-compliance with the law and lack of transparency”. Govt next day closed two private universities linked to Catholic Church and ordered seizure of assets, saying universities “obstructed the control and supervision of the General Directorate for the Registration and Control of Non-Profit Organisations”; authorities 14 March closed two more, bringing number of universities closed since Dec 2021 to 21. Interior ministry 8 March cancelled legal status of 20 NGOs, citing failure to comply with legislation, 15 March cancelled 22 more, bringing total number banned since Dec 2018 to 3,348.

Authorities severed diplomatic ties with Vatican. In move cementing Ortega regime’s anti-Catholic stance, govt 12 March suspended diplomatic relations with Vatican; move comes after Pope Francis 10 March described regime as “gross dictatorship” following Feb sentencing of Bishop Rolando Álvarez to more than 26 years in prison. Vatican 18 March said it had closed its embassy in Nicaragua. Meanwhile, Chilean President Boric 25 March criticised Ortega’s “family dictatorship” for revoking citizenship of dozens of political prisoners mid-Feb.

February 2023

Latin America & Caribbean

Nicaragua

Govt deported and revoked nationality of hundreds of political prisoners, tightening Ortega’s grip on power; crackdown on Catholic Church continued.

Ortega deported political prisoners and revoked their citizenship. Govt 9 Feb unilaterally released 222 of country’s 257 political prisoners, same day deported them to U.S. capital Washington, saying prisoners had “undermined the independence, sovereignty and self-determination of the nation” and incited “violence, terrorism and economic destabilisation”. National Assembly same day reformed Article 21 of Political Constitution in order to revoke citizenship of those deported and other opposition members already in exile; move prevents them from returning to Nicaragua, in effect leaving Ortega without an internal opposition and tightening his hold on power.

Repression of Catholic Church continued. Court 5 Feb sentenced six religious figures to ten years in prison on conspiracy charges. Court 10 Feb sentenced Bishop Rolando Álvarez, who refused deportation to Washington, to 26 years in prison; authorities also stripped Álvarez of his Nicaraguan nationality. Authorities 25 Feb shut down Catholic radio station Radio Metro Stereo Rosa, same day banned Catholic processions during Lent and Easter week.

Relations with Iran deepened. Iranian delegation led by FM Hossien Amir-Abdollahián 1 Feb arrived in capital Managua and signed memorandum of understanding on mechanism aimed at strengthening bilateral relations.

January 2023

Latin America & Caribbean

Nicaragua

Crackdown on Catholic Church continued, Indigenous groups condemned govt inaction on illegal settlers, and international actors urged release of political prisoners.

Ortega’s repression of Catholic Church continued. Authorities throughout month banned at least seven religious processions from taking place and attempted to stop at least three more across country as govt clamped down on religious gatherings. Public prosecutors 10 Jan started trial of Matagalpa Bishop Rolando Álvarez, accused of “conspiracy” and “spreading false news”; judge 16 Jan found priest Óscar Benavides guilty of “conspiracy to undermine national integrity and propagation of false news” and sentenced him to eight years in prison. In closed-door trial 23-26 Jan, authorities found six priests and one layman guilty of crimes of conspiracy and spreading fake news.

Indigenous communities spoke out against govt. Representatives of Miskitus and Mayangnas indigenous communities 5 Jan published open letter to President Ortega condemning state’s inaction regarding so-called colonos, or “settlers”, whom they accuse of invading indigenous lands, murdering members of local communities, causing environmental destruction and obstructing their communities’ access to food and shelter. Police 26 Jan arrested 24 settlers after they reportedly attacked Indigenous community as part of land dispute in Bonanza municipality, North Caribbean Coast Autonomous Region.

International pressure to release political prisoners persisted. U.S. Assistant Sec State Brian Nichols 6 Jan said “there has been no communication” with Ortega’s govt but that U.S. was willing to engage if Nicaragua took “positive steps”, such as releasing political prisoners and restoring “minimum rights” for all citizens. Chilean President Gabriel Boric 24 Jan called for immediate release of prisoners during summit of Community of Latin American and Caribbean States. Meanwhile, Ortega 11 Jan withdrew ambassadors from Chile, European Union, Ethiopia and Belgium.

December 2022

Latin America & Caribbean

Nicaragua

President Ortega’s crusade against dissent continued despite international condemnation; relations with Russia deepened further.

Crackdown on civil society and Catholic Church persisted. Interior ministry 1 Dec revoked legal status of 100 NGOs, 10 Dec revoked 100 more. News outlet Confidencial 7 Dec reported that govt had shut down over 40% of NGOs throughout country since 2018. Govt 14 Dec closed International University for Integration of Latin America. Meanwhile, authorities 11 Dec arrested communications chief from Diocese of Matagalpa (north) and journalist working for Catholic TV channel TV Merced; authorities 13 Dec charged Matagalpa Bishop Rolando Álvarez with “conspiracy” and “spreading false news” and ordered his house arrest.

International and local actors continued to condemn govt repression. U.S. 2 Dec added Nicaragua to list of countries that restrict religious freedom. President of Nicaraguan Centre for Human Rights 10 Dec said that state’s attacks on population could no longer be described as systematic violation of human rights, but rather as “policy of extermination”. Group of 34 Nicaraguan and international organisations 15 Dec called on UN Human Rights Office to renew mandate of Group of Experts on Nicaragua to investigate human rights violations.

Relations with Russia strengthened. Russian journalists 4 Dec arrived in capital Managua to train “Sandinista media”. Ortega 13 Dec authorised his ambassador in Moscow to sign agreement on cooperation in customs matters with Russia. President of Supreme Electoral Council and her Russian counterpart 14 Dec signed protocol on electoral cooperation with aim of “strengthening electoral models” of both countries. Ortega 23 Dec said “if Ukraine wins war against Russia, fascism imposes itself in the world”.

November 2022

Latin America & Caribbean

Nicaragua

Authorities continued to consolidate one-party state, holding local elections amid ongoing repression; relations with Russia and China deepened.

President Ortega secured full control of all municipalities in flawed elections. In another step toward establishing one-party state, authorities 6 Nov held municipal elections without participation of opposition parties and with little citizen engagement. Supreme Electoral Council 14 Nov confirmed victory of ruling Sandinista National Liberation Front in all 153 municipalities and set voter turnout at 57.5%, although independent Urnas Abiertas observatory 7 Nov estimated that 82.7% of voters did not participate. Number of international actors criticised elections. Notably, Chile’s President Gabriel Boric 9 Nov criticised lack of freedom and unreliable electoral justice; European Union 15 Nov said polls “can neither be considered democratic or legitimate”; and UN human rights office 17 Nov released report stating elections could not be considered transparent, democratic or legitimate.

Crackdown on civil society and political opponents persisted. Interior ministry 4 Nov shut down 100 NGOs, 10 Nov 100 more and 16 Nov revoked 100 more, bringing total number banned since Dec 2018 to around 2,900. Authorities 22 Nov detained renowned sociologist and govt critic Óscar René Vargas, 24 Nov detained opposition figure Guisella Ortega.

Amid deteriorating relations with regional partners, ties with Russia and China deepened. President Ortega 8 Nov accused Costa Rica of being “a terrorist base”, alluding to persecuted politicians who have requested refuge in country; Costa Rica’s President Rodrigo Chaves next day rejected allegations. Meanwhile, Beijing's ambassador to Managua 8 Nov announced equipment donations for National Police while China's top legislator, Li Zhanshu, 16 Nov held talks with president of National Assembly on strengthening bilateral ties. VP Rosario Murillo 15 Nov disclosed transport agreements with Russia, while authorities 25 Nov signed cooperation agreement with Russia on cybersecurity.

October 2022

Latin America & Caribbean

Nicaragua

Govt crackdown on critics continued despite global and regional criticism; tensions with West intensified amid new U.S. and EU sanctions.

Crackdown on civil society and Catholic Church continued. Interior ministry 12 Oct revoked legal status of 100 NGOs, including 51 international organisations; 18 Oct revoked 58 more and 27 Oct 100 more, bringing total number of groups banned since Dec 2018 to well over 2,500. Crackdown on Catholic Church also persisted. Notably, authorities 13 Oct arrested priest from Santa Martha church in capital Managua; judge 14 Oct accused seven members from Diocese of Matagalpa of undermining national sovereignty and spreading false news. Meanwhile, National Assembly 13 Oct passed law giving govt-controlled National Film Centre authority to authorise all audio-visual productions made in country.

International and regional actors continued to denounce repression. Inter-American Court of Human Rights 4 Oct ordered immediate release of 45 political prisoners, citing health risks in “precarious detention conditions”. Argentinian justice ministry 5 Oct opened investigation against Ortega, first lady Rosario Murillo and their closest collaborators to determine whether they had committed crimes against humanity. Organization of American States General Assembly 7 Oct approved resolution calling for release of imprisoned opposition figures, cessation of repression against civilians and end to persecution of church figures. El Salvador, Honduras and Saint Vincent and the Grenadines abstained from voting.

Tensions ran high with U.S. and European Union (EU). Following expulsion late-Sept of EU Ambassador Bettina Muscheidt and severing of diplomatic ties with Netherlands, EU 10 Oct declared Nicaraguan ambassador in Brussels persona non grata; 13 Oct extended sanctions against 21 officials and three govt entities for another year. Meanwhile, U.S. 24 Oct imposed sanctions on country’s mining authority, along with another top govt official, and imposed visa restrictions on over 500 govt insiders and their families; Ortega 27 Oct said U.S. sanctions are forcing Nicaraguans to emigrate.

September 2022

Latin America & Caribbean

Nicaragua

Despite international criticism, authorities continued crackdown on civil society as govt drew closer to China and Russia.

Crackdown on civil society and political opposition continued. National Assembly 7 Sept revoked legal status of 100 civil society organisations, 19-21 Sept revoked 200 more, bringing total number of banned groups since Dec 2018 to around 1,968. UN rapporteur on right to freedom of peaceful assembly 5 Sept said he had never seen “such a number of civil society organisations declared illegal from one day to the next”. Authorities 12 Sept arrested at least two activists from opposition movement Unamos in capital Managua and León city (west), 15 Sept arrested brother of exiled Unamos leader in Jinotepe city (centre). Govt 22 Sept suspended cable news channel CNN's Spanish-language service from all cable channels in Nicaragua.

International actors denounced repression. Colombian FM Álvaro Leyva 9 Sept told Colombian radio network W Radio that President Petro’s govt was trying to persuade President Ortega to release 21 political prisoners, including four former presidential candidates and some journalists. UN human rights chief 13 Sept presented report condemning “deterioration” of situation. European Parliament 15 Sept passed resolution condemning repression and arrests of members of Catholic Church. European Council President Charles Michel 26 Sept urged Ortega to “return the sovereignty of Nicaragua to the Nicaraguan people”; govt 28 Sept declared European Union Ambassador to Nicaragua Bettina Muscheidt persona non grata.

Managua drew closer to Russia and China. Nicaragua participated in military drills led by Russia 1-7 Sept in locations in Russia’s Far East and Sea of Japan, only Latin American country to do so. National Assembly 8 Sept ratified “early harvest” agreement with China signed in July, considered precursor to free trade agreement.

August 2022

Latin America & Caribbean

Nicaragua

President Ortega’s govt tightened grip on Catholic Church amid continued crackdown on civil society; tensions with foreign partners persisted. Hostilities against religious figures increased, notably targeting parishes and bishops in Matagalpa department (north). Police 2 Aug surrounded Divina Misericordia parish in Sébaco municipality, placing priest and some parishioners under siege until 4 Aug. Police 3 Aug surrounded Matagalpa diocese, blockading Bishop Rolando Álvarez, vocal critic of President Ortega, and some of his associates for two days. Authorities 5 Aug opened investigation against Álvarez for “promoting hate” and placed him under house arrest; 19 Aug forcibly entered Episcopal Palace of Matagalpa diocese, arresting Álvarez and at least seven associates. Authorities 12 Aug banned Our Lady of Fatima procession, organised by Catholic Church to take place 13 August in capital Managua, citing “internal security” concerns. In Mulukukú municipality, North Caribbean Autonomous Region (north east), police 14 Aug arrested Priest Óscar Benavides. Govt continued to shutter civil society organisations and media outlets. Notably, authorities 1-25 Aug shut down television channels RB3 and Nueva Guinea TV and 15 radio stations, including ten belonging to Matagalpa diocese; notably, 25 Aug shut down “Radio Stereo Fe” Catholic radio station, belonging to diocese of Estelí, after that diocese 23 Aug criticised govt for persecution of Church. National Assembly 9-11 Aug revoked legal status of 200 NGOs, 24 Aug revoked 100 more, bringing total number of NGOs closed since 2018 to over 1,450. Organization of American States (OAS) 12 Aug adopted resolution condemning “harassment and arbitrary restrictions placed on religious organizations” and urged govt to “cease harassment and intimidation of the independent press”. Meanwhile, Inter-American Court of Human Rights 19 Aug demanded immediate release of Álvarez and others “arbitrarily” detained in Nicaragua; UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet same day condemned raid of Episcopal Palace of Matagalpa and “new wave of harassment” against members of Catholic Church; Pope Francis 21 Aug expressed concern over situation and called for dialogue.

July 2022

Latin America & Caribbean

Nicaragua

As crackdown on opposition leaders and civil society organisations persisted, new figures showed dramatic increase in number of Nicaraguans heading for U.S. In ongoing crackdown on President Ortega’s rivals, security forces 2-4 July raided five town halls headed by Citizens for Freedom opposition party, whose legal status govt revoked in August 2021. Authorities ousted democratically elected mayors and councillors from ruling Sandinista party took control of municipalities. In response, opposition organisation Blue and White National Unity 6 July called for boycott of November municipal elections. Meanwhile, UN Committee against Torture 14 July said Ortega’s govt had “systematically violated human rights” during 2018 protests and called on authorities to investigate allegations that members of political opposition were tortured. Govt continued closures of civil society organisations (CSOs) and media outlets. National Assembly 13-14 July revoked legal status of 200 CSOs and 27 July revoked 100 more, bringing total number banned since Dec 2018 to around 1,168. Police 6 July arrested two drivers from La Prensa media outlet and then raided homes of other staff who were covering expulsion from country of 18 nuns belonging to Mother Teresa’s order (which lost its legal status late June); La Prensa 21 July said its staff had fled country for fear of being detained but that its work would continue. Amid crackdown, tens of thousands of Nicaraguans continued to flee country. U.S. border authorities 18 July reported apprehension of 84,055 Nicaraguans at U.S. southern border between January and June 2022, 358% increase from same period in 2021. On international front, Nicaragua and China 12 July signed agreement on preferential tariffs for agricultural products, raising prospect of free trade agreement in near future. Ortega 19 July ruled out any possibility of dialogue with U.S., saying it would be like “putting a noose around your neck”. Govt 28 July withdrew its approval of Washington’s nominee for U.S. ambassador to Managua, Hugo Rodríguez, whom it accused of making “interfering and disrespectful” remarks. U.S. State Dept 20 July included 23 Nicaraguan judges and prosecutors in its list of corrupt actors in Central America, known as Engel list.

June 2022

Latin America & Caribbean

Nicaragua

Crackdown on civil society organisations continued apace, U.S. and EU took further steps to condemn govt, and parliament authorised entry of Russian troops to combat illicit activities at sea. National Assembly 2 June cancelled legal permits of 93 NGOs, 10 and 13 June 26 more international NGOs, 15-16 June 191 national NGOS, 26 June 101 more NGOs, bringing total number banned since Dec 2018 to around 760. National Police 10 June raided and closed media outlet “Trinchera de la Noticia” in capital Managua. Persecution of religious leaders increased. Notably, police 1 June arrested Catholic priest Manuel Salvador García in Nandaime town, Granada (centre), on charges of aggression against woman, becoming first Church representative detained since Ortega returned to power. After said woman refused to press charges against García, judge 22 June sentenced him to two years in prison for aggression against five others. Govt 28 June ordered closure of Catholic radio station in diocese of Matagalpa (north), making it second Catholic Church-owned station to be banned from broadcasting in last two months. U.S. and EU took additional measures to pressure govt. Notably, European Parliament 9 June approved resolution condemning systematic repression of opposition; U.S. Sec of State Antony Blinken 13 June announced visa restrictions on 93 individuals accused of undermining democracy, including judges, lawmakers and govt officials. U.S. Treasury 17 June sanctioned state-owned mining company Empresa Nicaraguense de Minas (ENIMINAS) and its president, Ruy Delgado López. Meanwhile, National Assembly 14 June ratified authorisation for entry of 180 Russian troops into country to participate in operations against illicit activities in Caribbean and Pacific Ocean.

May 2022

Latin America & Caribbean

Nicaragua

Govt’s crackdown on opponents continued amid growing international isolation, and senior Iranian oil official pledged support to country. Authorities continued to repress civil society organisations. Notably, authorities 4 May effectively shut down 50 NGOs, another 44 on 18-19 May, and 83 on 31 May. Number of organisations closed in 2022 has now surpassed 250. Govt also increased persecution of religious leaders. Notably, Matagalpa bishop Rolando Álvarez 19 May announced hunger strike in protest against govt surveillance; and govt 20 May shut down catholic TV channel handled by Episcopal Conference. U.S. media outlet The New York Times 5 May reported that Laureano Ortega, son of Daniel Ortega, and Rosario Murillo quietly reached out to U.S. “shortly after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine”. Meanwhile, during visit to Nicaragua, Iranian oil minister Javab Owji Hom 6 May announced that Iran would supply country with oil and would look into possibility of reactivating investments in refinery called “Bolívar's ultimate dream”. However, Nicaragua remained largely isolated from international community, with foreign leaders throughout month denouncing Ortega’s repressive tactics. Notably, EU High Representative Joseph Borrell 4 May described Ortega’s regime as “one of the most repressive on the planet”, adding “we will do everything we can to isolate Ortega”. Permanent Council of Organization of American States (OAS) 13 May passed resolution with 29 votes calling on Nicaraguan authorities to return OAS offices seized in late April.

April 2022

Latin America & Caribbean

Nicaragua

Amid widespread condemnation of crackdown on dissent, Managua broke relations with Organization of American States, and authorities scored victory in maritime dispute with Colombia. Govt 24 April expelled representative of Organization of American States (OAS) in capital Managua, withdrew its representatives to regional body and said it will no longer participate in any OAS-related activity. Govt also expropriated building where OAS embassy was located, and announced creation of “Museum of Infamy” on site instead. Sec Gen Luis Almagro 27 April said Nicaragua’s move was unprecedented, including during times of worst dictatorships in the Americas. Move follows widespread international condemnation of country’s human rights record, as 38 European Parliament members 4 April sent letter to President Ortega expressing concern about human rights situation, demanding “immediate and unconditional release of the 169 political prisoners”; OAS Sec Gen Almagro same day had also urged international community to “increase diplomatic pressure” on Ortega to end “system of repression and torture”. U.S. State Department 12 April published 2021 Report on Human Rights Practices, denouncing how Ortega “awarded himself a fourth consecutive term” and arbitrarily imprisoned “nearly 40 opposition figures”. Despite international condemnation, repression continued during month. Mechanism for the Recognition of Political Prisoners of Nicaragua 5 April said at least 181 political opponents still held in prison for political reasons, some since 2018; regional civil society network Voces del Sur 13 April reported at least 103 attacks on press freedom during March; Parliament 20 April cancelled legal credentials of 25 NGOs; at least 164 have been cancelled since Nov 2018. Meanwhile, Managua scored victory in maritime dispute with Bogotá after International Court of Justice 21 April ruled Colombian activities in Nicaraguan marine zone violated Nicaraguan sovereignty, ordered Colombia to stop interfering in Nicaragua’s waters. Govt 7 April voted against UN General Assembly resolution suspending Russia from UN Human Rights Council (see Ukraine).

March 2022

Latin America & Caribbean

Nicaragua

Crackdown on opposition leaders continued amid widespread international criticism over human rights record and state representatives abroad speaking out against govt’s moves. Trials of opponents continued with over 35 sentenced during last two months, including court 1 March convicting Sandinista dissident Irving Larios of conspiracy to undermine national integrity, and 3 March sentencing seven opposition leaders to between eight and 13 years in prison on same charge. Court 11 March also sentenced for misappropriation and money laundering presidential hopeful Cristiana Chamorro and former lawmaker Pedro Joaquín Chamorro to eight and nine years’ imprisonment respectively. Political prisoners 28 March held protest from their cells in El Chipote prison, demanding better detention conditions and release. Meanwhile, crackdown on civil society persisted: National Assembly 17 March cancelled operating licences of 25 NGOs. Internationally, several voices raised the alarm. UN human rights chief Michelle Bachelet 7 March identified “serious violations of civil and political rights” in 2021 Nicaragua report; EU 14 March warned sentencing of political prisoners in closed-door trials “violated due process and Nicaragua’s own penal code” and urged govt to “immediately and unconditionally release all political prisoners”. International isolation also deepened. Notably, Vatican representative, Msgr Waldemar Stanislaw Sommertag, who remained one of few diplomatic channels open, 6 March left country; Vatican 12 March said it regretted that Ortega’s govt had basically requested Sommertag to leave, qualifying it as a “grave and unjustified” decision. Govt 24 March also expelled representative of International Red Cross Committee. U.S. State Dept 9 March added nine Nicaraguan officials to list of “corrupt and anti-democratic actors”; Authorities 10 March withdrew Nicaraguan ambassador to Spain for alleged “pressure and interference threats”. Arturo McFields, Nicaragua’s ambassador to Organization of American States, 23 denounced in public forum Ortega govt for its unfair treatment of political prisoners; govt immediately argued McFields was not its representative, and proceeded to remove him one day after. Lawyer Paul Reichler, Nicaragua adviser before International Court of Justice for decades, 2 March also curbed ties with govt in letter published 27 March by news outlet Confidencial.

February 2022

Latin America & Caribbean

Nicaragua

Authorities continued trials of dozens of opponents in closed-door trials and cancelled status of several universities and NGOs sparking international condemnation. Public prosecutors 1 Feb resumed trials of around 40 opposition figures and activists arrested in run-up to 7 Nov 2021 presidential election; at least 26 found guilty of conspiracy and undermining national integrity after closed door trials, including three presidential hopefuls. Death of former Sandinista guerrilla fighter Hugo Torres in prison on 12 Feb put conditions of political prisoners in spotlight. While officials said Torres’ death resulted from illness, prisoners’ relatives had previously raised concerns about his poor detention conditions; UN High Commissioner for Human Rights 13 Feb said Torres had been subjected to “criminal trial without guarantees” in “inhumane” conditions; EU 14 Feb called for independent investigation, and U.S. same day called for all political prisoners to be released; Organization of American States 18 Feb passed resolution denouncing “human suffering” and requested release of political prisoners. Prosecutor’s office same day granted house arrest to three other political prisoners with precarious health conditions, and 24 Feb to another two. National Assembly 2 Feb cancelled legal status of five Nicaraguan universities and 11 NGOs for allegedly contravening transparency norms; 15 Feb cancelled status of six more NGOs and 16 Feb of six international NGOs; 23 Feb cancelled licenses of two more universities. National Assembly 7 Feb approved creation of three state universities, from assets of cancelled universities. Interior ministry 3 Feb said seven foreign academic programs shut down. Economist Investigative Unit 9 Feb released Democracy Index showing Nicaragua as one of most undemocratic countries after falling 20 places. Coalition comprising 16 national and international organisations, Collective 46/2, 25 Feb called on UN Human Rights Council to establish accountability mechanism in Nicaragua. Nicaragua 6 Feb denounced violation of maritime space by El Salvador naval force in Gulf of Fonseca, deemed it provocative; El Salvador next day affirmed space under its sovereignty.

January 2022

Latin America & Caribbean

Nicaragua

Amid growing international isolation, President Ortega’s govt continued authoritarian rift, operated rapprochement with China, and initiated steps toward dialogue with private sector. Daniel Ortega sworn in 10 Jan for fifth time (fourth consecutive) as president of Nicaragua following Nov elections widely perceived as rigged, and widespread criticism by international community. Those attending ceremony included Cuban President Miguel Díaz-Canel, Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro, and Honduras’ outgoing president, Juan Orlando Hernández; former Salvadoran Presidents Mauricio Funes and Sánchez Cerén, both nationalised Nicaraguans and accused of corruption in their country, also joined; Iranian Mohsen Rezai, searched by Interpol for his role in 1994 bombing of Buenos Aires AMIA Jewish centre, also attended, prompting condemnation by Argentine and Organization of American States (OAS) 11 Jan and 19 Jan respectively. U.S. Treasury Department 10 Jan sanctioned six officials and revoked 116 visas. Costa Rica, Panama and Dominican Republic FMs 11 Jan labeled Nicaraguan crisis “urgent priority” for region. EU 10 Jan sanctioned seven officials and three state institutions including family members of Ortega and VP Rosario Murillo, police and Supreme Electoral Council; Switzerland 24 Jan joined EU sanctions. OAS Sec Gen Almagro 19 Jan reported to Permanent Council that govt did not respond to requests to allow visit of OAS delegation. In face of growing international sanctions, Nicaragua strengthened relations with China; notably, 10 Jan signed four bilateral cooperation and diplomacy agreements with Beijing. Meanwhile, some 70 opposition organisations, inside and outside the country, 9 Jan appointed seven-member National Council for the Democratic Transition. Govt continued to stifle dissent. National Assembly 19 Jan cancelled legal status of three university associations, and Chinandega criminal district judge 18 Jan sentenced for first time Nicaraguan citizen for violating cybercrime law. Judicial authorities 26 Jan reactivated trials of several political prisoners charged with “treason law”. Meanwhile, VP Murillo 19 Jan announced govt will meet with private sector representatives; business association COSEP 27 Jan asked Ortega to establish dialogue with no preconditions.

December 2021

Latin America & Caribbean

Nicaragua

Amid ongoing stifling of dissent widely condemned internationally, President Ortega sought rapprochement with China and Russia. After Episcopal Conference in late Nov offered to mediate possible dialogue between govt and opposition, Auxiliary Bishop of Managua, Silvio José Báez (who went into exile in 2019), 5 Dec said “it is impossible to dialogue without re-establishing civil liberties”. Over 35 representatives of opposition and civil society organisations exiled in Costa Rica 7 Dec said conditions for dialogue with Ortega’s “illegitimate” govt not met. Meanwhile, authorities 13-14 Dec shut down 11 NGOs. As Ortega’s govt faced increasing international isolation, delegation comprising sons of Ortega and VP and first lady Rosario Murillo 6 Dec met Russian Deputy FM Sergei Ryabkov in Russia’s capital Moscow to seek to expand bilateral cooperation; Murillo same day asked U.S. and EU to lift sanctions on officials. Govt 9 Dec cut diplomatic ties with Taiwan, said People’s Republic of China “is the only legitimate government” as “Taiwan is an inalienable part of the Chinese territory”. Attorney General’s Office 26 Dec seized Taiwan’s embassy premises and handed them to China. Organization of American States (OAS) 8 Dec approved resolution urging Ortega to release all political prisoners and mandating OAS Sec Gen Luis Almagro to lead diplomatic efforts to convince govt to accept OAS good offices mission; Almagro 17 Dec requested extension of deadline until mid-Jan to report on progress; OAS mission would seek to facilitate implementation of comprehensive electoral reforms, repeal all legislation restricting political participation, and launch inclusive dialogue on new elections. EU Parliament 16 Dec adopted resolution notably calling for EU sanctions on Ortega. U.S. President Biden 21 Dec announced Nicaragua will only receive humanitarian and trade-related aid in 2022.

November 2021

Latin America & Caribbean

Nicaragua

Country’s international isolation reached unprecedented levels after President Ortega secured fourth term in elections widely condemned as sham. Supreme Electoral Council 10 Nov said Ortega had won 75.9% of votes in 7 Nov presidential election; also said turnout reached 65.3%. However, NGO Urnas Abiertas, which deployed 1,450 observers to 563 polling stations across country, 7 Nov estimated turnout much lower at 18.5%. Vote drew widespread international condemnation, further isolating country. U.S. President Biden 7 Nov condemned election as “sham” and 10 Nov signed into law “Renacer Act”, expanding sanctions on key members of Ortega’s govt and restricting multilateral bank lending. U.S. Treasury Dept 15 Nov sanctioned Nicaraguan public ministry and nine senior govt officials, and Biden next day banned all members of Nicaraguan govt from entering U.S. Meanwhile, Organization of American States (OAS) 12 Nov passed resolution stating elections “were not free, fair or transparent, and lacked democratic legitimacy”. Govt 19 Nov announced Nicaragua’s withdrawal from OAS. Inter-American Court of Human Rights 22 Nov declared Nicaragua in “contempt” for refusing to comply with court’s recent orders to release 21 political prisoners; warned it will refer Nicaragua’s decision to OAS General Assembly. Meanwhile, repression of opponents continued. Urnas Abiertas 12 Nov reported arrest of 35 opponents around polling day, including 23 on eve of election. Unidentified armed men 22 Nov arrested former Ambassador to OAS and outspoken Ortega critic Edgard Parrales in capital Managua. New head of Episcopal Conference, Bishop Carlos Enrique Herrera Gutiérrez, same day stated Church’s readiness to mediate talks between govt and opposition.

October 2021

Latin America & Caribbean

Nicaragua

Amid continued crackdown on dissent, President Ortega’s controversial fourth term bid in 7 Nov general election risks worsening country’s political instability and isolation in coming weeks and months. Several attacks against opposition activists reported in Nicaragua and neighbouring Costa Rica. Notably, police officers 7 Oct temporarily detained opposition activist Kicha López at her home in Madriz department over allegations of plotting against govt; López’s mother reportedly injured during raid. In second attack recorded since Sept against Nicaraguan political activists in Costa Rica, armed individual 2 Oct assaulted and injured civil society activist Raiza Hope, who had fled to Costa Rica in 2018, in capital San José. Authorities 21 Oct arrested President and VP of lead business chamber, Superior Council of Private Enterprise, Michael Healy and Álvaro Vargas, on conspiracy and money-laundering charges. Authorities 4 Oct also removed Managua Appeals Court President Gerardo Rodríguez, apparently for admitting appeal filed by opposition Citizens for Freedom (CxL) party against cancellation of its legal status. Ortega same day officially launched campaign for fourth term. International actors continued to denounce Ortega’s authoritarian drift. U.S. State Dept 14 Oct said “electoral process has lost all credibility” due to Ortega’s “undemocratic and authoritarian actions”, and U.S. Sec State Antony Blinken 22 Oct accused Ortega of trying to establish “authoritarian dynasty”. EU Foreign Policy Chief Josep Borrell 18 Oct said Nicaragua is “one of the worst dictatorships in the world” with Ortega and his wife, VP Rosario Murillo, preparing “fake elections” to stay in power. Organization of American States (OAS) 20 Oct passed resolution calling for immediate release of political prisoners, condemning govt’s “efforts to subvert the electoral process”, and threatening to take further actions during OAS General Assembly in Nov.

September 2021

Latin America & Caribbean

Nicaragua

Repression against opposition leaders continued ahead of legislative and presidential elections due in Nov. Prosecutor’s Office 8 Sept issued arrest warrant against award-winning novelist Sergio Ramírez on charges of “money laundering”, “incitement to hatred” and “conspiracy” to destabilise country; Ramírez has been living in exile since June. Police 20 Sept arrested sociologist Irving Larios in capital Managua over conspiracy accusations. After authorities 31 Aug-3 Sept for first time allowed families to visit detained opposition and civil society figures in “El Nuevo Chipote” prison in capital Managua, relatives of 19 prisoners 7 Sept denounced mistreatments, including isolation, hunger and lack of medical care. Inter-American Court of Human Rights 9 Sept requested Managua’s authorisation to enter country to assess situation of group of detained opposition and civil society leaders. UN human rights chief Michelle Bachelet 13 Sept urged govt to cease “persecution of the opposition, the press and civil society”; in joint statement to UN Human Rights Council, 50 countries 14 Sept questioned legitimacy of elections set for 7 Nov. U.S. Sec State Antony Blinken 15 Sept said Ortega’s govt was taking Nicaragua “down the grim path of authoritarianism”; U.S. govt late Sept pulled its Defense Attache Lt. Col. Roger Antonio Carvajal Santamaria out of Nicaragua after he made comments complimentary of Nicaragua’s military. Meanwhile violence against civil society activists continued to run high. Unidentified gunmen 11 Sept shot and seriously injured Joao Maldonado, political activist and well-known figure of 2018 anti-govt demonstrations, in neighbouring Costa Rica; attack came one day before planned protest against Ortega in Costa Rica’s capital San José. Advocacy group Global Witness 13 Sept said country had highest reported per capita rate of violence against environmental activists in 2020, with 12 killed – rising from five in 2019.

August 2021

Latin America & Caribbean

Nicaragua

Despite govt’s growing international isolation, crackdown on opposition and independent media continued ahead of Nov general elections. Authorities targeted opposition party Citizens for Freedom (CxL): notably, police 3 Aug placed under house arrest CxL VP hopeful in Nov polls, Berenice Quezada, for allegedly “inciting hatred and violence”; Supreme Electoral Council 6 Aug removed CxL’s legal status, de facto disqualifying party from presidential contest; interior ministry 8 Aug annulled passport of CxL president, Carmella Rogers Amburn (alias Kitty Monterrey), who 10 Aug said she had left for Costa Rica; police 9 Aug detained CxL figure and former diplomat, Mauricio Díaz. Police 20 Aug arrested opposition movement Blue and White National Unit official Roger Reyes for allegedly undermining country’s sovereignty. Space for independent media and NGOs also under attack as authorities 13 Aug raided offices of main independent newspaper La Prensa, allegedly as part of investigation into “customs fraud and money laundering”, next day detained one senior editor. Govt 16 Aug also cancelled operating permits of six international NGOs for allegedly violating transparency law, and 26 Aug banned another 15 national NGOs accusing them of “failing to meet their legal obligations”; moves bring to 49 total number of NGOs prohibited to work in Nicaragua since 2018. Internationally, EU 2 Aug sanctioned eight public officials and govt allies, including VP Rosario Murillo (who is also President Ortega’s wife) for human rights violations or undermining democracy or rule of law; U.S. 6 Aug imposed visa restrictions on 50 relatives of Nicaraguan lawmakers, prosecutors and judges reportedly allied with Ortega and Murillo; U.S. Senate same day passed RENACER act, which calls for stronger sanctions on govt. Govt 9 Aug said it had recalled its ambassadors to Mexico, Colombia, Costa Rica and Argentina for “consultations”; move comes after all four countries recently recalled or suspended appointment of their ambassadors to Nicaragua to protest against crackdown on dissent. Costa Rican authorities 9 Aug said they had received 10,077 refugee applications from Nicaraguans in June-July, highest number since 2018 protest movement.

July 2021

Latin America & Caribbean

Nicaragua

Despite new sanctions against President Ortega’s close allies, detentions of opposition and civil society leaders continued ahead of Nov general elections; tensions mounted within opposition. Security forces 5 July arrested three rural (campesino) leaders, including presidential hopeful Medardo Mairena, and two student activists for allegedly undermining country’s sovereignty; 24 July placed another presidential hopeful, Noel Vidaurre, and journalist Jaime Arellano under house arrest; 27-29 July arrested opposition umbrella organisation Blue and White National Unity leader José Antonio Peraza, former FM Francisco Aguirre Sacasa and human rights defender María Oviedo. EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell 6 July threatened “more restrictive” measures against Ortega’s govt, while EU Parliament 8 July approved resolution asking for immediate release of all political prisoners, calling on EU Council to expand sanctions against Ortega and his inner circle. U.S. State Dept 12 July imposed visa restrictions on 100 members of National Assembly and judicial system for allegedly “undermining democracy”. Canada 14 July imposed economic sanctions on 15 govt officials in response to “systematic human rights violations”. Meanwhile, friction mounted among opposition forces. Citizens for Freedom (CxL) party, allied with other opposition group Civic Alliance, 26 July said it will appoint its own VP, Óscar Sobalvarro, as presidential candidate (which it did 28 July). Following announcement, several prominent Civic Alliance figures, as well as Civic Alliance local chapters, said they will not run for parliament for CxL.

June 2021

Latin America & Caribbean

Nicaragua

Govt launched unprecedented wave of arrests of political and business representatives ahead of Nov general elections. Authorities 1-2 June charged prominent opposition presidential hopeful Cristiana Chamorro with “money laundering” and “ideological falseness” and placed her under house arrest. In following days, police launched wave of arrests of opposition politicians, businessmen and journalists under controversial “Treason Law” passed in Dec 2020; at least 20, including four other presidential hopefuls, detained by month’s end. As of 25 June, three journalists (including head of independent news outlet Confidencial and Cristiana Chamorro’s brother, Carlos Fernando Chamorro) and a former ruling-party official now in opposition had fled into exile. Spate of arrests sparked international outcry. U.S. Treasury 9 June sanctioned four more public officials for “supporting [President] Ortega’s efforts to undermine democracy, human rights, and the economy”. EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell 10 June firmly condemned spate of detentions, and Organization of American States’ Permanent Council 15 June approved widely-backed resolution condemning arrests and calling for “immediate release of all political prisoners”. U.S. Senate Foreign Affairs Committee 22 June approved “Renacer Act”, calling for greater international pressure to ensure fair elections in Nicaragua.