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Three decades from the end of its civil war, Nicaragua was shaken in 2018 by a mass uprising that President Daniel Ortega met with a violent crackdown. Hundreds died and thousands fled the country as security forces broke up mostly peaceful protests, spurred by an unpopular reform to the social security system. Despite Ortega’s major achievements in the fight against crime and economic development, critics accused him of undermining democracy and seeking to establish a dynastic authoritarian regime. Through its fieldwork and advocacy, Crisis Group seeks to contribute to a negotiated exit from the crisis and prevent further bloodshed.

CrisisWatch Nicaragua

Deteriorated Situation

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.
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Reports & Briefings

The Risks of a Rigged Election in Nicaragua

Also available in Español

The Keys to Restarting Nicaragua’s Stalled Talks

Also available in Español

A Road to Dialogue After Nicaragua’s Crushed Uprising

Also available in Español

In The News

11 Mar 2020
What we are seeing is a quiet stifling of opposition [in Nicaragua]. The Guardian

Ivan Briscoe

Program Director, Latin America and Caribbean

Latest Updates

Deportation and Disease: Central America’s COVID-19 Dilemmas

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.

Also available in Español
EU Watch List / Global

Watch List 2019 – Third Update

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.

A Thaw or a Trap? Nicaragua’s Surprise Return to Negotiations

Nicaragua has launched a second round of national dialogue to negotiate a way out of the political and economic crisis that erupted last year. Both the opposition and international actors should demand results, but avoid the animosity that contributed to the first round’s failure.

Also available in Español

A Road to Dialogue After Nicaragua’s Crushed Uprising

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.

Also available in Español