More Nicaraguans facing political upheaval at home flee to U.S.
More Nicaraguans are fleeing their country than in past years, seeking refuge in neighboring Costa Rica as well as in the U.S. and Mexico.
Why it matters: The Nicaraguan exodus has ramped up as President Daniel Ortega and his wife, Vice President Rosario Murillo, have again cracked down on dissent.
- Ortega and Murillo were declared winners of widely criticized elections in November, after most other candidates were jailed.
Driving the news: Arturo McFields Yescas, Nicaraguan ambassador to the Organization of American States and a former supporter, called Ortega a dictator last week, saying he could no longer keep quiet.
- Yesterday he told the Wilson Center, a research think tank, that although he doesn’t regret speaking out, he fears for his family.
- Nicaragua's secretary of foreign affairs disavowed him.
By the numbers: Customs and Border Protection has encountered over 63,000 Nicaraguans at the U.S. border this fiscal year, more than during all of FY2021, according to agency data.
- About 150,000 Nicaraguans have fled to Costa Rica since 2018, half of them in the last eight months alone, according to the UN refugee agency.
- The number of Nicaraguan asylum seekers has grown by 300% in Mexico, according to the Mexican office for refugees.
Between the lines: The UN warned recently that the sharp increase means the Costa Rican asylum system could soon be overwhelmed.
- Anti-immigrant sentiment is also growing in the small Central American nation.
Zoom out: Mass migration from Central America, especially from Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador, has been on an upswing for years, driven by economic instability, violence and climate change.
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