As 2018 came to a close, the Nicaraguan government entered a new phase in its efforts to destroy the protest movement against President Daniel Ortega and his wife and Vice President Rosario Murillo that began in April. As people prepared for the holidays, the Ortega regime shutdown a popular television station, ransacked and closed the offices of popular media outlet, Confidencial, striped nine civil society groups of their legal standing and seized their assets, and expelled international human rights observers.
Now, hundreds of civilians, who participated in protests but have never picked up a weapon are being charged with terrorism-related crimes under a new law that broadened the definition of terrorism. More than 400 demonstrators have been arrested and, according to some experts, an estimated 60,000 people have fled the country.
And while Ortega continues to work to silence dissenters at home, abroad governments like theU.S. are looking to put an end to the repression. On December 20, President Donald Trump signed the Nicaraguan Investment Conditionality Act, which prohibits Nicaragua from borrowing money from international development banks. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo also met with recently elected Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro to discuss a joint effort against the rogue regimes of Venezuela, Cuba and Nicaragua. More broadly in the region, Organization of American States’ Secretary General, Luis Almagro, under article 20 of the Democratic Charter, called for an emergency session to discuss the situation in Nicaragua. The question now is how much longer can Ortega survive with mounting international pressure and a plummeting economy?