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.

CrisisWatch Nicaragua

Unchanged Situation

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.

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In The News

14 Feb 2023
[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... Los Angeles Times

Ivan Briscoe

Program Director, Latin America and Caribbean

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