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.
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.
[Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega] has shown that political survival outweighs any possible internal or external pressure. It was a matter of life or death for him to e...
What we are seeing is a quiet stifling of opposition [in Nicaragua].
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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