Nicaragua Government Crackdown

HMR 161

Group 19: Quetzally Cuahuey, Svetlana Prado, Juan Vaca

The photographs were obtained from the Atlantic publication. To access the references Click Here.

Nicaragua’s history has been plagued with war and political violence. The primary contributions of the violence are US imperial interference, civil war, autocratic regimes, and constant clashes between political factions. The Somoza family regime ruled Nicaragua prior to Daniel Ortega. However, the new opposition feels that Daniel Ortega is emulating the Somoza family’s style of rule. He has family members and friends in office, who benefit financially from business deals and laws that he passes through the Nicaraguan government. According to the Committee of Abolition of Illegitimate Debt’s website, He uses his political platform to amass wealth and responds to any form of opposition with violence.


Inti Ocón/AFP/Getty Images

In early April of 2018, NPR reported that the president of Nicaragua, Daniel Ortega, proposed a social security reform that sent the citizens of Nicaragua to streets, protesting the reform. The reform called for a stop in the widening deficits in the welfare system. These changes would have increased the contributions into the social security by workers and employer however, this would have reduced the pension of those who are retired workers. The Social Security Council approved of this, and soon after the announcement, thousands of people took to the streets of Managua, the capital of Nicaragua, to protest. What at first, started as a peaceful demonstration unfolded into an anti-government protest to overthrow Ortega out office (Diao).


“I am no longer able to work as a human rights defender. I became scared when I saw my photo hanging on the walls of the building of the Sandinista party in my city. Everyone knows that in that building they hang the photos of the people that they’re going to arrest”


– Human rights defender Interview conducted by OHCHR

Government forces ransacking an office of the independent media outlet, Confidencial

In efforts to control the protestors, Ortega pursued a tactic of repression by executing arbitrary arrest, kidnappings, and murders. As of 2019, 320 have been killed, hundreds detained, and 30,000 have been exiled (Reuters). Attacks have scaled to more than just demonstrations, for the government has begun cracking down on organizations and institutions that foster the protection of human rights, media production, and democracy. The government is also targeting specific individuals who pose a threat to or oppose the interests of the government. Not only has this tactic damaged the economy, but it has also induced fear within Nicaragua (Reuters). Among 100,000 families have migrated to Costa Rica with 6,000 to 7,000 Nicaraguan asylum applications being submitted every day to Costa Rica. Many Nicaraguans hope to escape the turmoil and repressive government under Ortega (Spindler). Many have been discontent with Ortega’s governance with many accusing him of embodying similar abuses of power as did Somoza, a dictator which Ortega himself once opposed.  The renowned protest gave those unhappy with the government an opportunity to rise against it and voice their call for change.


Alfredo Zuniga / AP

“You know exactly the pain we have lived for 28 days. Can you all sleep peacefully? Because we have not slept. We are being persecuted, we are students. . we had to put the dead, we have put the missing, those who are kidnapped … in a month you have disrupted the country which took Somoza many years to disrupt and you know it very well”

– Lesther Aleman, a 20 year-old student speaking directly to Ortega in an assembly

Worldwide organizations that have been involved are the  UN, the Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International, OAS, and the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights . However, they are unable to enter the country, so helping Nicaraguans locally has become infeasible. The Permanent Council of the Organization of American States [OAS] responded by creating a committee to investigate the situation while the UN has imposed sanctions with the intention of pressuring the Nicaraguan government (Vivanco, Pappier). A recommendation has been for the OAS to work with local groups to monitor the human rights situation in Nicaragua in hopes to prevent the continuation of forced disappearances (Vivanco, Pappier) . Recently, efforts from international sanctions have resulted in the Nicaraguan government giving a public statement affirming the release of current prisoners while also implementing electoral reforms for the upcoming presidential election of 2021 (Reuters).


CreditCreditInti Ocon/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

The citizens are tired of Ortega’s dictatorship and his ways of manipulating the people. The president has denied all accusations of committing human rights violations against his people, instead, he is blaming the opposition group for the killings (Diao). Ortega has addressed his intentions with a reform proposal and has stated that he is willing to work with the people of the community. However, the citizens will only be satisfied if their freedom of speech is regained and the political violence has ended.

Human Rights Dossier

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Reference Page

Diao, Alexis. “Nicaragua’s President Withdraws Social Security Reforms That Sparked Violent Unrest.” NPR, NPR, 22 Apr. 2018, www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/2018/04/22/604762080/violent-unrest-continues-in-nicaragua-over-social-security-reforms.

Reuters. “Nicaragua Vows to Free Protesters, Begin Reforms.” Voices of America, VOA, 9 Mar. 2019, www.voanews.com/a/nicaragua-vows-to-free-protesters-begin-reforms/4821639.html

Spindler, William. “UNHCR Steps up Its Response as Thousands Flee Violence in Nicaragua.” UNHCR, United Nations High Commissioners for Refugees , 31 July 2018, www.unhcr.org/en-lk/news/briefing/2018/7/5b601e4f4/unhcr-steps-its-response-thousands-flee-violence-nicaragua.html.

Vivanco, José M., and Juan Pappier. “Cómo Frenar La Cacería De Opositores En Nicaragua.” The New York Times. August 20, 2018. Accessed February 21, 2019. http://www.nytimes.com/es/2018/08/20/opinion-derechos-ortega-humanos-nicaragua-oea/amp/.

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