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

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”.

Continue reading

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

Latest Updates

Subscribe to Crisis Group’s Email Updates

Receive the best source of conflict analysis right in your inbox.