A Push for Freedom: Ensuring a Democratic Transition in Nicaragua through International Pressure

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The cover of A Push for Freedom Cover Photo: © Confidencial Magazine

Since 2018, the Nicaraguan government, under Daniel Ortega and Rosario Murillo's command, has decided to rule with blanket impunity. Their systematic use of force, criminalization of democracy, economic populism, and disregard for commitments to the international community have led to continued human rights violations, greater migration flows, and a deepening economic crisis. A new report, written by Manuel Orozco, Director of the Migration, Remittances, and Development program at the Inter-American Dialogue, outlines the consequences of the government's impunity and offers a series of recommendations for international engagement that could lead to workable solutions. The report specifically identifies the United States as being particularly suited to lead such efforts, given its credibility among Nicaraguans and the multitude of close ties that bind the countries together, such as trade, foreign assistance, and sustained migration. 

The report begins with an introduction discussing the problem of unchecked impunity and the specific legislation the Nicaraguan government has enacted to guarantee total control. Next, it discusses the consequences of impunity, which include electoral fraud, economic instability, a massive migration wave, an insecure and fragmented country, and increasing isolation on the international stage. The report briefly touches upon the mentality of the Ortega-Murillo regime, analyzing their obsession with power, which needs to be understood prior to any international engagement. Finally, the report concludes with a recommended pathway toward a workable solution, through mediation and pressure, which relies on the elements and vehicles contained within the recently signed Renacer Act in the United States.


  1. The United States and the international community should recognize the existence and legitimacy of key leaders in the Nicaraguan opposition, who are engaging the political environment and building their own strength, even amidst widespread repression.
  2. The economic tools of the Renacer Act, including potential revisions to the Central American Free Trade Agreement, can be used to increase pressure on Nicaragua despite slow implementation and enforcement so far.
  3. There should be a diplomatic roadmap that includes bilateral, multilateral, and regional engagement on Nicaragua, which also focuses on outreach to the organized Nicaraguan diaspora. 
  4. The United States can lift the morale of an exhausted Nicaraguan population by being a loudspeaker to the international community, making visible the international condemnation of human rights violations, the illegitimacy of the elections, and the politically and morally indefensible actions of the regime. 
  5. The United States should incorporate Nicaragua into the regional strategy on the root causes of migration and take a humanitarian approach to Nicaraguans migrating to Costa Rica and Panama.  



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