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.
Political situation remained tense amid end of govt-opposition negotiations, while govt continued repressive measures. Following opposition body Civic Alliance’s repeated calls for resumption of talks and President Ortega’s 30 July letter notifying dialogue’s international guarantors of his decision to end negotiations, govt repression remained at high level; opposition Blue and White National Unity 14 Aug stated 134 political prisoners arrested since June still detained and alleged police unlawfully detaining on average four civilians daily. Permanent Human Rights Commission 7 Aug filed complaint to govt over unconstitutionality of Amnesty Law for crimes related to 2018 uprisings. International pressure continued with actors calling on govt to resume dialogue; U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for Western Hemisphere, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Bachelet and Spain’s foreign ministry 2 Aug released statements regretting govt’s decision to end talks. U.S. National Security Advisor John Bolton 6 Aug threatened imposition of blockade while U.S. Nicaragua ambassador 14 Aug called on govt to resume talks, warning of possible Organization of American States measures. Amid economic deterioration, govt delegation 8 Aug began visit to allies including Cuba, Russia and Iran, signing bilateral trade agreement with Iran 13 Aug.
Public resentment is high in Nicaragua after street protests in April were crushed in a brutal government crackdown. To prevent further unrest, President Ortega should implement agreed electoral reforms while international actors maintain diplomatic pressure to create conditions for dialogue.