Dictatorial Radicalization in Nicaragua: From Repression to Extremism?

Cover photo Radicalization of Nicaragua Report © 2018 Oswaldo Rivas/Reuters

This post is also available in: Spanish

The democratic backsliding of Nicaragua represents one of the greatest challenges for the Latin American and Caribbean region. The authoritarian drift that has progressively materialized in Nicaragua has gone from repression to extremism. The result is a society that lives in fear, besieged, and without hope for a better future in the short term. The prevailing and overwhelming impunity has caused outright violations of human rights and stripped away citizens’ sense of decency. The regime of Daniel Ortega and Rosario Murillo continues to violate civil liberties and constitutional rights through a radical and extreme escalation, whose trajectory dates back several years.

This is a particularly serious issue — one that must be addressed urgently. The problem is not limited to Nicaragua – it represents a threat of new authoritarian drifts in the region and a latent domino effect. Freedom of expression, citizen activism through non-governmental organizations (NGOs), respect for the rule of law, and the promotion of democratic institutions have been eroded and are now non-existent, preventing the development of Nicaragua and leaving the country in its darkest moment. The new normal is electoral fraud, the gradual elimination of opponents and a lack of of democratic and institutional checks and balances. This report is based on three studies carried out on the impact of international sanctions, the closure of NGOs, as well as an evaluation of international loans.

The international community must act now . This report offers an analysis of how pressure from the international community, international sanctions and external financing represent alternatives to improve the dire situation in Nicaragua. The analysis shows the limitations of the sanctions, and the continuity of indebtedness the country has acquired in the midst of repression — requesting loans that are inconsistent with the needs of economic development paired with a widespread lack of accountability.

Finally, the report presents five recommendations for the international community to increase a proportional response to the impunity that prevails in Nicaragua:

1. Continue and increase the sanctions with a greater scope and precision against those who facilitate repression and corruption.
2. Monitor international loans approved by international financial institutions and demand accountability and greater transparency from the governments that receive them.
3. Encourage international mediation and dialogue, as well as multilateral pressure in international forums.
4. Recognize the importance of the Nicaraguan diaspora and their role in mitigating the crisis.
5. Implement the Law to “Reinforce Nicaragua’s Adherence to Conditions for Electoral Reform Act of 2021” (RENACER).

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