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Nicaragua: News & Updates

Nicaragua was ruled by the Somoza dictatorship, backed by the US, for 30 years. After the Sandinista Revolution took control in 1979, the US assembled former Somoza National Guardsmen into a counterrevolutionary force that, for the next decade,  terrorized the civilian population in an attempt to weaken popular support for the Sandinistas. The  “contra war”  left 30,000 people dead and forced more than 100,000 to seek refuge in the US.

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News Article

Only a few days ago we reported on the release of 222 political prisoners from Nicaraguan prisons. Now less than a week later, new, very concerning news reaches us from the country.

On Wednesday February 15, Nicaraguan Appeals Court Justice member Ernesto Rodríguez Mejía declared that the state will immediately cancel the citizenship of 94 political opponents. Rodríguez Majía stated that the 94 individuals were "traitors" and accused them of "spreading false news" and planning a "conspiracy to undermine national integrity." Next to the repealing of citizenship, Rodríguez Majía said that all their properties will be confiscated. It is still unclear under which law the journalists, activists, politicians and former Sandanista rebels were stripped of their citizenship, but a law which would allow the procedure is currently being debated in the National Assembly. However, so far the law has not been approved and can't be used as a legitimization. Many legal experts and activists call the step a political move and suggest that it violates international law. In 1961 the Nicaraguan government, together with many other nations, signed a UN treaty which states clear rules to prevent statelessness. The treaty includes a prohibition of "deprive[ing] any person or group of persons of their nationality on racial, ethnic or political grounds." 

Targets of the most recent move are widespread and even include members of the Sandinistas guerillas and Sandinista government, many of whom got disillusioned in the 1990s and distanced themselves from the government leadership. 

Although a large number of the targeted individuals fled into exile after the 2018 crackdown on political opposition and nongovernmental organizations, the consequences for those still in the country are unclear. 

For the 222 released and expelled a similar story unfolded. All were stripped of their nationality and declared enemies of the state. Shortly after the deportation of the individuals, the Spanish state made an offer for an unrestricted citizenship, while the United States is offering two years of temporary protection.     

News Article

Unexpected news comes from Nicaragua, as the government has released 222 p0litical prisoners, flew them to the United States on February 9.

The 222 individuals include activists, journalists and key members of the political opposition, like former foreign minister Francisco Aguirre-Sacasa and the two 2021 presidential candidates Cristiana Chamorro and Arturo Cruz. The mass imprisonment in Nicaragua began following a 2018 uprising in which hundreds were killed and thousands injured. The crackdown against opposition intensified in the forerun of the 2021 election as a means to obliterate all opposition to the current government led by Daniel Ortega.

Otrega, who came into power 2007, has so far won every following presidential election in the country. National opposition as well as the US president Joe Biden have doubted the legitimacy of the last election and claiming that it was rigged. 

The US secretary of state, Antony Blinken, called the release “a constructive step towards addressing human rights abuses” and added, that the move “opens the door to further dialogue between the United States and Nicaragua.”

The Nicaraguan government has so far not commented on the reason for the release, but state-controlled media have shared a statement by magistrate Octavio Rothschuh Andino that the prisoners were deported in order to protect national security, public order and peace. Octavio stated that "The deportees were declared traitors to the motherland."


News Article

After an attack on an Indigenous community in a territory belonging to the Miskito, Mayangna and other indigenous groups, Nicaraguan police have arrested 24 invading settlers. The 22 men and two women allegedly were armed with machetes, sticks and stones during the assault but were overwhelmed and detained by community members. The residents handed the offenders over to the police who took the group to jail. Officials stated that the attackers will be charged with organized crime, land seizure and environmental crimes, but activists and residents doubt that the investigations will be followed through. 

This was the first large arrest and announcement of detention since the beginning of the invasion of non-Indigenous settlers years ago. So far the authorities are known for their slow investigations or ignorance towards these crimes. 

Since the beginning of the logging invasion into the Mayangna's and Miskito's land in 2015, at least 28 community members and leaders have been killed and 3,000 displaced. So far big mining and logging companies have invaded 60% of the Indigenous territory, bringing in at least 5,000 settlers many of whom are former soldiers. 

Indigenous communities denounced the government for a lack of protection. Authorities deny these accusations.

To efficiently protect Indigenous land and communities, it is not enough to call the government for help. The perpetrator in this injustice is an industry of mass production which puts profit over the environment and the communities suffering from their land exploitation. We need to support Indigenous communities in their struggle for peace and defense against these offenders.

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For years the United States government's migration policies were deeply interconnected with its ideological struggle against "the Evils of Communism." This brought with it an unequal treatment of South and Central Americans, as well as Caribbean refugees fleeing war, violence and poverty. While the Cold War was splitting the world into two, the United States established an unofficial policy assessing the political and economic risks and benefits of the acceptance of refugees and assigning priorities based on the country of origin. Individuals fleeing socialist countries were granted asylum regularly, while those coming from friendly, capitalist countries were rejected. Irrespective of the often violent and tyrannic regimes supported by the United States, immigrants from these countries were classified as economic refugees and denied entrance in to the United States.

But over time the ideological strategy changed into a more repressive and rejecting approach towards all migration from South and Central American, and Caribbean countries. This is particularly visible in Joe Biden's extension of the xenophobic Title 42 to Cuban, Venezuelan, Haitian and Nicaraguan immigrants.  
Restricted by all Title 42 regulations, these individuals now have to apply for protection status from their home countries, find financial sponsors and have access to air travel to enter the United States. For the four new countries the Biden Administration has set a limit of 30,000 people monthly, over a two year period.

The history of the treatment of immigrants coming from these countries gives insight into the United States' ideological approach, deeming them as victims of communism, while often being responsible for the circumstances driving the migration itself. 

Following the Cuban Revolution and the failed invasion at the Bay of Pigs in 1961, the United States established an embargo blocking all foreign aid to the island, as well as banning the import of Cuban goods into the United States and any exports going to Cuba. But the attempt to starve the island into submission and erupt protests against the government failed and the country was able to stand against this attack on civil society. Nevertheless, many victims of this economic warfare were driven to leave their homes and leave Cuba. For many years the United States welcomed these "Victims of Communism." But with the Mariel Boatlift of 1980, Cuban mass migration and the "Haiti Refugee Crisis," the mentality towards these groups changed with President Reagen using the War on Drugs to deem refugees as a criminal threat. This marked the kickoff of the still ongoing militarization of the U.S.-Mexican border. Even though the United States still considers Cuba a hostile nation, the political and economic interests shifted.

For Nicaraguan refugees the story is in many contexts similar to that of the Cubans. In the 1980s the United States aided the creation of the Contra paramilitary as an effort to undermine the left-wing FSLN (Sandinista) government. In the United States, Nicaraguans fleeing the violence and destruction of the Nicaraguan revolution and later the civil war between the US-backed Contra and the FSLN were labeled victims of socialism and welcomed in larger numbers than refugees coming from other countries. With the new restriction, this procedure has changed.

Instead of an ideologically driven migration narrative, today's policies are focusing on the accumulation of profit. The prison industrial complex uses the ongoing criminalization of lower-class PoC-communities to gain profits. In the Detention-Industrial Complex, for-profit prison corporations are moving in, building holding facilities, fences and other border security infrastructure as well as maintaining and running them. Motor and arms companies provide the tools border defense forces use to harass, assault and arrest peaceful refugees seeking a safe and stable life. 

The further criminalization of immigrants and militarization of the border sheds a light on the United States' expanding profit-over-people approach to immigration.        

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Hailing from all corners of the United States and Canada, 22 delegates ranging from the ages of 10 to 80 traveled to Nicaragua from January 7-16, 2023 to investigate the conditions and the lives of Nicaraguan women on a delegation organized by the Jubilee House Community–Casa Benjamin Linder and Alliance for Global Justice. We had the opportunity to meet with a plethora of community organizers, workers, and public officials: from peasant feminist farmers to self-employed unionists; from urban community health workers to nurses and doctors; from battered women’s program directors to women leaders in the police, National Assembly, and Ministry of Women. We met with Nicaraguans from all walks of life and heard their stories of resilience and empowerment despite two hundred years of imperialist aggression and efforts to undermine their sovereignty. We were inspired by the power and protagonism of Nicaraguans and particularly Nicaraguan women and their participation in their communities and governments.

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In this monthly newsletter, please read about (1) Immigration Court in Cleveland, OH, (2)  The Biden Administration’s Plans to Overhaul Border Policies after the End of Title 42, (3) Title 42: Expelling Migrants in the Name of Health Measures. Update on Removal Flight Trends, (4) Temporary Protected Status (TPS) Renewed for Haitians, and (5) At The Border: Recent Incidents at and around the US-Mexico Border. TAKE ACTION ITEMS: After reading the articles, please take a few moments to advocate for migrant justice with our TAKE ACTION items: (1) Urge Congress to Reject Racist, Anti-Asylum Policies, and (2) Permanent Pathway to Citizenship for DACA and TPS Recipients.

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In this montly newsletter, please read about : (1) Immigration Court in Cleveland, OH: Nicaraguans rank #1 in deportation proceedings filed; (2) - Recent Border Trends: Why We See so Many Nicaraguans and Venezuelans Arriving at the U.S. Southern Border; (3) Title 42: Expelling Migrants in the Name of Health Measures: Biden Urges Mexico to Take Migrants under COVID Expulsion Order He Promised to End; (4) Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE): Increase in ICE’s use of Ankle Monitors and Smartphones to Monitor Immigrants and Detention Numbers; (5) At The Border: Recent Incidents at and around the US-Mexico Border. TAKE ACTION ITEMS: After reading the articles, please take a few moments to advocate for migrant justice with our TAKE ACTION items: (1) Support Ohio Immigrant and Refugee Businesses this Holiday Season; (2) ​​​​​Urge Congress to Support and Pass Permanent Pathways to Citizenship (3) Stop the illegal and immoral transportation of migrants by certain governors to other states and Washington, DC.

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As Fiscal Year 2022 is almost over, we are hearing numbers of 750 or more migrant deaths over the past twelve months. While, tragically, it does still happen that migrants die while being chased by Border Patrol agents or shot when attempting to cross the border, the majority of these deaths are a result of the so-called “prevention through deterrence” strategy that forces people to take on more dangerous routes when traveling up to the southern U.S. border to seek safety. And if they do make it through to the U.S., they are often expelled immediately or put into deportation proceedings, waiting for their hearing in Mexican emergency shelters or U.S. detention centers. Read IRTF's monthly overview of recent updates on U.S. immigration and what has been happening at the border!

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On September 17, the New York Times published an article  by Anatoly Kurmanaev and Jody García including misinformation and false claims about the US government's efforts to support democracy in Central America. 

The article claims that the Biden administration is working to end corruption and impunity in Guatemala, while being inactive as the military backed government  “methodically dismantled the last vestiges of independent institutions." The US is supporting this illegitimate government, referring to the Guatemalan ruling class as "democratic allies." 

Besides this, Biden lied about stopping the sanctions against Nicaragua, which the U.S. and many "western" countries have been using since the 1980's to squeeze its economy and cause political change. 

The article also states that the U.S. aided the return to democracy in Honduras. In fact, the U.S. has always held mutually beneficial relations to the Honduran government which came to power by an U.S. backed coup.     


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Practicing journalism in Guatemala, Nicaragua and El Salvador is becoming increasingly difficult in the face of the persecution of independent media outlets by neo-populist rulers of different stripes, intolerant of criticism. The union of Guatemalan journalists and the reporter’s family say the arrest is a clear example of political persecution as a result of the investigations into corruption and mismanagement in the Giammattei administration published by the newspaper, which was founded in 1996. “I definitely believe it is a case of political persecution and harassment, and of violence against free expression and the expression of thought,” Ramón Zamora, son of the editor of elPeriódico who has been imprisoned since his arrest, told IPS from Guatemala City.