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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.

Learn more here.

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Nicaraguan religious leaders are outraged by President Daniel Ortega and his wife Rosario Murillo's self-identification as Christians while their government suppresses dissent and seizes religious properties. The crackdown, which began in 2018, has resulted in deaths, imprisonments, and loss of citizenship for critics. The Catholic Church has suffered under Ortega's regime, with surveillance, intimidation, and threats against clergy and worshippers. Religious freedom has deteriorated, leading to fear and self-censorship. The situation has caused division and suffering in Nicaraguan society, with a lack of reliable information. The sister interviewed fears for her safety but speaks out for the people of Nicaragua and calls for international attention to their plight.



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In the Cleveland EOIR (Executive Office for Immigration Review, aka Immigration Court), there has been a significant increase in FY23 in both 1) new deportation proceedings filed by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and 2) deportation orders issued by Cleveland EOIR immigration judges.

New Deportation Proceedings Filed in Cleveland

FY22 = 940 average per month

FY 23 = 2,015 average per month


Deportation Orders Issued by Judges in Cleveland

FY22 = 293 average per month

FY23 = 449 average per month

IRTF publishes these numbers in the monthly Migrant Justice newsletter, which can be accessed at .

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In this monthly newsletter, we highlight the work of Ohio Immigrant Alliance in advocating for the asylum rights of Black Mauritanians.

Black, African and Caribbean migrants seeking safety in the United States have been treated unfairly for decades. They are subject to deportation proceedings at a higher rate than other migrants. They are denied asylum at higher rates. They have higher rates of detention and solitary confinement. All of this is rooted in institutionalized racism.

The racist treatment of Black migrants is very much reflected in Ohio’s sole immigration court (Cleveland) where deportation proceedings against Mauritanians are disproportionately represented. While Cleveland is just one of 69 immigration courts, 18% of all deportation proceedings filed against Mauritanians have been filed in Cleveland this fiscal year (11,623 nationally; 2,146 Ohio).

In the Take Action section, you can learn more about Ohio Immigrant Alliance’s efforts to get DHS (Dept of Homeland Security) to designate TPS (Temporary Protected Status) for Mauritanians. If granted TPS, they would not be placed into deportation proceedings.

Read this monthly newsletter in its entirety at

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Nicaragua's struggle for sovereigty and self determination has been a thorn in the side of many political figures in the United States for decades. After the Nicaraguan Sandinista revolution overthrew the 43 year long dynasty dictatorship of the Somoza family in 1979 and took power, the United States began its opposition campaign by arming the Contra militia and establishing a total embargo against the country, which was only lifted after the Sandinista government was voted out in an election heavily influenced by the United States in 1990.

After the Nicaraguan people elected Daniel Ortega, a member of the Sandinista FSLN party in 2006, the United States stepped up its sanctions again. Most recently the United States has established a ban on the importation of Nicaraguan gold and sugar, two of the country's most important export products.

Now in 2023 Republican and Democrat senators alike are starting a new attempt to double down on these sanctions, trying to restrict loans for economic development from the Central American Bank for Economic Integration (CABEI) which funds roads, water and energy projects, as well as housing in the country.  The legislation proposed by the leadership of the US Senate Foreign Relations Committee (Sen.Tim Kaine, Sen. Marco Rubio) would also ban the sale of coffee, beef and a number of fair trade products produced by small indigenous collectives. If imposed, these sanctions would infringe upon the property rights of U.S. citizens and residents investing in Nicaragua by mandating no new investment or even home improvement. Furthermore, the US mandates a search for human rights violations or some other way to suspend Nicaragua from DR-CAFTA, a trade agreement that has benefited both the United States and Nicaragua. If this legislation goes through, the ban of loans by the CABEI would take away one of the last sources of loans; the International Monetary Fund (IMF), World Bank and the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) have already stopped most loans as part of active sanctions. 

Although there is legitimate critique of Daniel Ortega's government, which has come from Sandinistas and NGO's alike, it is undeniable that the FSLN government has made astounding progress in areas like education, social security, housing, and infrastructure. If the United States imposes further sanctions, it would be a severe blow to the Nicaraguan budget and its ability to keep social programs in place.  

We share the Alliance for Global Justice's call to stop the senators' plans to impose new sanctions and call for an end to the violent sanctions already harming Nicaragua's civilian population.   If you want to help to stop further sanctions, you can  Click here to send messages to your senators!        

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Despite the federal government’s bragging that its new asylum-restriction policies at the border are working (backed by stats of fewer “encounters” of undocumented persons), measures to further block people from crossing and soliciting asylum are on the rise. Biden is requesting more money for ICE and CBP, which means more surveillance, militarization, and detention. In the Rio Grande, Texas Governor Abbott is stringing a series of floating buoys wrapped in concertina wire and anchored to the riverbed below with webbing to prevent people from swimming underneath.  Aside from being unusually cruel and dangerous to migrants and wildlife, the measure is most certainly in violation of the International Boundary and Water Commission (IBWC), which was established in 1889. And Texas State Troopers told The New York Times that “there were explicit orders [from supervisors] to deny water to migrants and to tell them to go back to Mexico.” This is consistent with a story published in The Guardian in which troopers reported treating a four-year-old girl who passed out from heat exhaustion in 100-degree temperatures, only to watch the Texas National Guard push the girl and her group back into the river to Mexico.  

We’re doing what we can to stay on top of migration news at the border, in Ohio, and in the Cleveland immigration court.

In this month's newsletter, please read about: 1) Immigration Court in Cleveland, 2) ICE Air: update on removal flight trends, 3) The Human Costs of the Asylum Ban, 4) At the Border: recent incidents, 5) Darién Gap: Tourism Booms while Migrants Suffer, and 6) Texas Deploys Floating Buoys in the Rio Grande.

TAKE ACTION on any of these items: A) Tell Biden to cut ICE and instead fund real human needs, B) Tell senators to oppose the Supplemental Border Funding Bill, C) Tell your congressperson to vote no on the DHS Security Appropriations Bill, D) Tell Congress to reject new bills that deny access to asylum at the southern border, E) Sign up for the Biden deportation tracker, F) Urge Congress to pass the Afghan  Adjustment Act. 

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In the Cleveland immigration court in May 2023, nationals of Venezuela ranked #1 of all new deportation cases filed by the Department of Homeland Security against Latin Americans.  Since the beginning of Fiscal Year 2022, the number of Venezuelans has been right up there with Guatemalans, Hondurans, and Mexicans.  So what is driving so many Venezuelans to Ohio?

In this month’s Migrant Justice Newsletter, please read about: 1-Immigration Court in Cleveland, OH, 2-ICE Air: Update on Removal Flight Trends, 3-Cruelty at the Border Is Not Success, 4-At the Border: Recent Incidents at and around the US-Mexico Border, 5-Halfway to the US: A Report on Migration from Honduras, 6-Venezuelans: How US Sanctions Are Driving Migration North to the US, 7-Asylum in Limbo – a book review. Then see our TAKE ACTION items: A) Follow the Biden Deportations Tracker, B) Tell Senator Sherrod Brown to take his name off Sen. Kyrsten Sinema’s anti-asylum bill!, C) Urge Your Congressperson to Support the American Families United Act (now called Dignity Act), and D) Restoring Asylum and Dignity for Immigrants – webinar July 12, 7-8pm EDT.

Even though Title 42 ended on May 11, removal flights to El Salvador and Honduras increased in May. And in Cleveland’s immigration court (EOIR), new deportation cases filed in May were up 1200 over the previous month, due mainly to the government filing cases against 1278 migrants from Mauritania and another 888 against migrants from Uzbekistan. The top nationalities (from Latin America/Caribbean) with new deportation proceedings filed in Cleveland in May: Venezuela (450), Mexico (278), Colombia (209), Guatemala (195), Haiti (160), Honduras (159), Peru (135), Nicaragua (77), El Salvador (47).

Read IRTF’s June 2023 Migrant Justice Newsletter at:

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Time and time again, journalists are victims of violence and repression in many Central American counties. In an effort to cut the freedom of the press, governments all over the continent have implemented laws to persecute critical media and shut down news outlets, as well as obstructing access to public information and stigmatizing individuals and outlets. But this repression is only one side of the sword. In many countries journalists and reporters are targets of threats, cyber attacks and even assassinations. This constant harassment and fear of being the next one killed or imprisoned has caused many to go into exile. 

In Honduras four reporters have been killed since the beginning of 2022, a trend that has been going on for decades. Between 2001 and today 98 killings of journalists were recorded. Such violent attacks and killings usually remain without any sentence or even conviction in Honduras, a fact criticized by many. The director of the Committee for Free Expression calls this lack of punishment "enormous impunity," and the Honduras National Human Rights Commission sees the media as a victim of "extreme violence." Besides the direct violence against journalists, the state threatens the freedom of expression with laws targeting reporters, journalists and news outlets. 

The exiling of reporters takes its most excessive form in Nicaragua, where nearly 200 journalists and reporters and others have gone into exile, 23 of whom were even stripped of their citizenship. As a legal rationalization, the Nicaraguan government declared these 23 individuals as traitors to the nation. In addition to the oppression of individual people, Nicaraguan authorities have taken over the daily La Prensa, the channel 100% Noticias, the two digital magazines Confidencial and Niu, and the television programs Esta Semana and Esta Noche. 

In Guatemala, criminal persecution is the most serious threat to the free press. In that country many journalists, reporters and other media personal have been jailed. Since President Alejandro Giammattei took office in January 2020, 12 journalists and reporters critical of him have gone into exile. 

In El Salvador violence against media personnel is a regularity.According to the  Association of Journalists of El Salvador (APES), 611 cases of aggression against reporters and Journalists have been recorded since the election of President Nayib Bukele in 2019. Legal reforms in the country hindering reporters and journalists in their work have led the news outlet El Faro to move to Costa Rica in mid-April. Again and again repression has  caused reporters to leave the country.  Eleven individuals were forced to exit the country and 30 were spied on with the Pegasus software, provided by Israel. Between 2021 and 2022 the government has closed down three radio stations. 

Another country cutting freedom of  the press is Panama. Here the state regularly abuses its oppressive legal system against critics. Anti-slander, and personal data protection laws are being used by authorities to set up civil and criminal lawsuits against media outlets like La Pensa daily and the digital media site Foco. The fear of being sued, and charged with millions in fines or even prison time, leads to a climate of self-censorship within the media spectrum. 

Compared to the other countries mentioned above, Costa Rica is a relatively safe harbor. In the country no journalists are reported jailed or persecuted. But even here three critical media outlets were verbally attacked by government officials.

Though these grievances have been going on for decades, the situation hasn't improved. It is important that journalists, reporters and news outlets are able to do their work safely and without having to fear persecution. We call on all Central American nations to ensure a free press and freedom of speech.         


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to IRTF’s May 2023 newsletter on Migrant Justice and the current situation at the US-Mexico border! After you’ve looked through the articles, we hope you can take a couple of minutes to see the TAKE ACTION items at the bottom. The articles in this email version are abbreviated.

In this newsletter, please read about 1. Immigration Court in Cleveland, OH; 2. ICE Air Flights: Update on Removal Flight Trends; 3 .Labor Exploitation of Unaccompanied Minors: Congress is slow to act ; 4. New Protections for Immigrant Workers; 5. At the Border: Recent Incidents at and around the US-Mexico Border; 6. Effects of the end of T42 and DHS new plans for processing migrants. To read the full newsletter, see .


Here is what you can do to take action this week and act in solidarity with migrants and their families.

Tell Senator Sherrod Brown to take his name off Sen. Kyrsten Sinema’s anti-asylum bill!

Bring Home Immigrants who’ve been deported from Ohio. 

Tell Congress to Protect Dreamers

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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.     

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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."