He has refused to step down before elections in , when many analysts fear he will rig the vote to instate his wife, Rosaria Murillo, as a proxy ruler. Congress is weighing a set of broader sanctions that would, among other things, place restrictions on international lending to Nicaragua.
However, some analysts caution that upping the financial pressure on the regime could cause the political situation to deteriorate further and feed instability in an already beleaguered region. Given the turmoil in the Northern Triangle, tens of thousands of Nicaraguans are fleeing south for Costa Rica.
Migrant flows could increase early next year, when thousands of Nicaraguans living in the United States could lose temporary protected status and be required to leave or find an alternative legal means to stay in the country. United States. Backgrounder by Jonathan Masters August 12, In Brief by Brad W. Setser August 8, Women and Economic Growth.
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The media has portrayed the first student-led demonstrations as spontaneous and indignant at the actions of the Ortega government. That may be true of many of the students, but there are also organized groups at the center of these protests that had been mentored and funded for years by agencies of the U.
There is a trail of connections. The Civic Youth Movement MCJ , which has already been active in Nicaragua for some years, describes itself as an organization dedicated to promoting projects of civic responsibility, education about and promotion of democratic institutions among students and youth.
Nicaragua in Crisis: What to Know
Whether this promotion of democracy is simply a broad and laudable principle or, in the context of Nicaragua, a specific coded critique of Ortega and the Sandinista government or even a call for regime change, is open to interpretation. One of the first fields of operation for this activity was Nicaragua during the Contra War of the s, when the NED gave several million dollars to anti-Sandinista opposition groups.
The history of U. Such suspicions are bolstered by the events surrounding meetings in June between opposition protesters and Washington powerbrokers. The question of student involvement in the conflict is complex. The Sandinistas have a long and effective history of training and promoting youth mobilization and resistance. Not all of this is solely the instigation of outsiders, though that element is certainly there.
Nicaragua | Department of Economic and Social Affairs
What did we expect? What had begun relatively peacefully quickly became violent and chaotic, with death tolls counting in the hundreds. Soon, opposition groups were accusing the police of using trained snipers to target and kill protest leaders during street demonstrations. In turn, the police accused the opposition of using snipers to create more deaths and conflict that could be blamed on the police. Although many media reports frequently referred to anti-government demonstrators as peaceful protesters, reports of anti-government groups using not just homemade mortars and Molotov cocktails, but also firearms, including automatic rifles, have circulated.
The use of these weapons was sometimes characterized as an attempt by embattled students trying to protect themselves from police, soldiers, or Sandinista thugs. Most of the mainstream media did not explore the question of whether there might be others with less pure and peaceful intentions involved in the protests , or report the many attacks on and burning of public and government buildings and Sandinista party offices. Opposition groups began to construct barricades across major highways and in urban neighborhoods.
The groups that built and protected the barricades varied widely and their members did not all share the same purposes. While some barricades became scenes of relatively peaceful anti-government protest, others were constructed by people in neighborhoods wishing to keep out violent anti-government protesters, according to friends and contacts on different sides whom I interviewed in Nicaragua in early September. Many other barricades were controlled by groups willing to use violence to defend the barricades against inevitable police efforts to remove them.
Some Nicaraguans and longtime U.
Some report that criminal gangs from El Salvador are involved in some of the more violent anti-government protests. Police reports for example, in the June 5 edition of the conservative daily, La Prensa and increasing evidence from eyewitnesses in Nicaragua seem to corroborate that some of the leaders of the violence in Nicaragua are gang members from El Salvador who have come to Nicaragua to mingle with and foment violence among anti-government protesters under the cover of popular protest and chaos.
Since Nicaragua under Ortega and the Sandinistas has been one of the few places in the region that is not a major transport route for drug smuggling and gang activity, one apparent motive for Salvadoran gang involvement would be to open Nicaragua to these activities by eliminating Ortega. The use of criminal gangs and gang activity to fuel chaos and insecurity in order to topple governments is a tactic that has been documented in other Latin American countries. In Nicaragua during the Contra War of the s, U. One might legitimately ask whether this tactic could again be at work in Nicaragua.
S everal international organizations have issued statements or reports about the current situation in Nicaragua, some lacking attention to the larger context.
Committee for the Abolition of Illegitimate Debt
The report does not mention the presence and interests of criminal enterprises seeking a free play zone in Nicaragua, nor the potential use of such groups in U. Absent also is any attempt to explore or verify alleged incidents of anti-government violence. The report also makes no mention of the long and ongoing history of United States efforts to control Nicaraguan political life and to remove Ortega and the Sandinistas from power. Although the Amnesty report presents a detailed description of the forensic findings on the victims killed during street demonstrations and of the possible presence of snipers, it interprets these findings as evidence that the killers and the snipers were police.
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