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Nicaragua: "Foreign Agents" Law Explained

Thank you Alliance for Global Justice for sharing this article and photo.

[This article was originally published by NSCAG on 22 February 2021 at https://www.nscag.org/news/article/333/nicaraguas-foreign-agents-law-explained] 

By Louise Richards 

In October 2020, Nicaragua passed a ‘Foreign Agents’ law. The law requires all organisations, agencies or individuals, who work with, receive funds from or respond to organizations that are owned or controlled directly or indirectly by foreign governments or entities, to register as foreign agents with the Ministry of the Interior. The fundamental objective of the law is to establish a legal framework that will regulate natural or legal persons that respond to foreign interests and funding, and use this funding to carry out activities that lead to interference by foreign governments or organisations in the internal affairs of Nicaragua, putting at risk the sovereign security of the country.

Predictably, the law has caused an outcry from the United States, who accuse Nicaragua of sliding towards dictatorship (when in fact the new law mirrors a similar and even more stringent law in the United States) and organisations like Amnesty Interrnational who claim that President Ortega plans to ‘silence those who criticise government policies, inform the population and defend human rights.’

The truth of the matter is that the intention behind the law is very simple – to create a tool that allows Nicaragua to ensure or prevent foreign powers, countries, governments, agencies or organisations from developing acts of interference in Nicaragua’s domestic affairs or national domestic policy, something that not only Nicaragua seeks to do and condemn, but very much something that international organisations of all kinds also condemn. There are Resolutions of the United Nations; there are Resolutions of the Organization of American States; there are Rulings of the International Court of Justice in The Hague, where they condemn, in a clear and categorical way, all these acts of interference, by any foreign Government in the domestic matters of another country.

For years now, the US has poured millions of dollars into opposition NGOs and media in Nicaragua in an attempt to destabilise the country, undermine the democratically elected government and bring about ‘regime change’. Since 2017, a handful of Nicaraguan NGOs and media have received well over US$100 million from USAID alone. There are clear signs that the US intends to intensify these actions in the run up to Nicaragua’ national elections in November. In passing the Foreign Agents law, the Nicaraguan government has acted only to stem the tide of US funding which has been used until now to create chaos and instability and attack the country’s sovereignty.

There are around 5000 NGOs in Nicaragua – the vast majority are engaged in perfectly legitimate activities around health and social issues for example and none of them will be affected by this law which is targeted solely at a minority of organisations who have been heavily funded by the US merely to act as proxies for US and right wing opposition ambitions in the country.

‘Nicaragua has the right to know about and protect itself from foreign funding of its domestic opposition – a country is not required to cooperate in its own overthrow by a foreign power.’ – Chuck Kaufman, Alliance for Global Justice

Sources:-

Council on Hemispheric Affairs, article by John Perry

The Grayzone article by Ben Norton

Interview with Deputy Walmaro Gutierrez, President of the Economic Commission of Nicaragua’s National Assembly, Tortilla con Sal