Stories by Mateo Jarquín

Expert Voices

As Venezuela grabs headlines, Nicaragua sinks further into dictatorship

Nicaraguans demonstrate outside the Nicaraguan Embassy in San Jose, Costa Rica on January 12, 2019, to protest against the arrest of opposition journalists.
Nicaraguans demonstrate outside the Nicaraguan Embassy in San Jose, Costa Rica, on Jan. 12, to protest the arrest of opposition journalists. Photo: Ezequiel Becerra/AFP via Getty Images

With Venezuela's political and humanitarian catastrophe back on the international radar, the crisis in Nicaragua continues to fester, largely unnoticed.

Why it matters: In December, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights accused the Nicaraguan government of committing crimes against humanity when it crushed protests demanding the ouster of President Daniel Ortega. In absolute terms, the repression's 2018 death toll — at least 300 — is comparable to that of Venezuela, but relative to Nicaragua's much smaller population, it ranks as one of the worst human rights crises Latin America has seen in decades.

Expert Voices

Human rights crisis continues to roil Ortega’s Nicaragua

Anti-government protesters take part in a march dubbed 'United Nicaragua will never be defeated' in Granada, Nicaragua on August 25, 2018
Anti-government protesters take part in a march dubbed 'United Nicaragua will never be defeated' in Granada, Nicaragua, on August 25, 2018. Photo: Inti Ocon/AFP via Getty Images

The UN Human Rights Office accused the Nicaraguan government of violating international and human rights laws in a scathing report published on Wednesday. After massive street protests shook the foundations of President Daniel Ortega’s authoritarian regime in April, police and armed parapolice groups cracked down with disproportionate force, including extrajudicial killings, forced disappearances, sexual violence and torture.

Why it matters: The UN says that Nicaragua’s political crisis has left at least 300 dead and 2,000 injured, among a population roughly equal to that of the D.C. metro area. U.S. and Latin American diplomats worry that the instability could spawn a refugee crisis and create a power vacuum that might be filled by transnational organized crime groups.

Expert Voices

No end in sight for Nicaragua crisis as Ortega cracks down on protests

People attend the 'Marcha de las Flores'  in honor of children killed during protests in Managua on June 30, 2018.
People attend a march honoring children killed during protests in Managua, Nicaragua, on June 30, 2018. Photo: Marvin Recinos/AFP via Getty Images.

Since late April, massive street protests have rocked Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega's authoritarian regime, demanding his ouster. Ignoring calls for early elections and derailing peace talks with the civilian opposition alliance, Ortega has used police and paramilitary forces in a bid to win back the streets through brute force.

Why it matters: Regime repression has left over 200 dead and the economy is forecasted to shrink dramatically as a result of the unrest. Despite recent U.S. sanctions, the crisis will likely continue, with adverse consequences in Nicaragua and beyond.

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