On Tuesday, the US Government announced sanctions against Nicaragua’s Vice President, Rosario Murillo, and one of her aides, Nestor Moncada Lau. Murillo is the wife of President Ortega. In a statement, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said “Vice President Murillo and her political operators have systematically sought to dismantle democratic institutions and loot the wealth of Nicaragua to consolidate their grip on power.

The statement describes Maurillo as the ‘de facto co-president‘ since 2017, and sets out her links to organisations that have been accused of human rights violations –

Murillo is also a leader with access and influence over the Sandinista National Liberation Front (FSLN)’s youth organization, known as the Sandinista Youth, and the Nicaraguan National Police (NNP).  The Sandinista Youth and the NNP are entities that have, or whose members have, engaged in serious human rights abuse in Nicaragua.  According to public reports, the NNP have been part of “Death Squads” that have engaged in extrajudicial killings, torture, and kidnapping, while Sandinista Youth paramilitaries, armed and paid by the FSLN, have been implicated in serious human rights abuses related to the ongoing protests against the Nicaraguan government, including attacks on protesters.  Further, in June 2018, masked gunmen, accompanied by individuals identified by witnesses as Nicaraguan police, reportedly set fire to a family home in Managua, killing six, including two young children.  Finally, Murillo has a long history of engaging in acts of corruption related to Nicaragua.

Travel advice

As these sanctions were issued, so the US Embassy in Managua warned of heightened animosity towards Americans. If you are American or could be mistaken for an American, we recommend you take immediate steps to maintain your safety.

  • You should avoid demonstrations, large crowds of people and public events.
  • Be aware that protests against American organisations and businesses are likely and avoid areas that are potential targets.
  • Review your travel risk management plan, so you know exactly what to do in an emergency.
  • Register with your local embassy, giving them accurate contact details.
  • Make sure you have important contact information stored in a secure offline location.
  • Monitor local media.
  • Set aside some supplies of food and bottled water. Make sure you know where your first aid kit is and review the contents.
  • Keep your devices charged. Do not travel without a fully charged device. 
  • Check in regularly with friends and family. Agree check in times in advance and set up a plan for what to do if you miss a check in time. 
  • If something does happen, contact the local embassy as soon as it is safe to do so.

For media sources, the US Embassy recommends ‘100% Noticias, also known as Channel 15 or Channel 63 on cable, and Radio Corporación offer nearly 24/7 news coverage.’

Background

In April, protests erupted in response to proposed changes to the social security situation. These rapidly became widespread and violent, with government forces cracking down on protests. Our timeline of coverage shows how the crisis unfolded –

April
May
June
July – November

Official travel advice

A very brief overview of official travel advice for Nicaragua. Click through on the links to read the advisories in full. (We highly recommend you do this if you are contemplating a trip.)

US State Department ‘Reconsider travel to Nicaragua due to crime, civil unrest and limited healthcare availability.’
UK’s Foreign and Commonwealth Office ‘The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) advise against all but essential travel to Nicaragua.’
Australia’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade ‘We now advise Australians to reconsider your need to travel to Nicaragua.’
New Zealand’s Safe Travels ‘Avoid non-essential travel to Nicaragua due to civil unrest and violent crime.’
Government of Canada ‘Avoid non-essential travel to Nicaragua due to civil unrest, which has been occurring throughout the country since April 2018.’
Ireland’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade ‘We advise Irish citizens in Nicaragua to avoid non essential travel.’


From the US Embassy in Managua, issued on the 27th November 2018

Location:  Nicaragua, countrywide

Event:  Recent public announcements have heightened the risk of demonstrations against the U.S., and, as a precautionary measure, Embassy personnel have been instructed to limit their activities until further notice.

Actions to Take:

  • Avoid demonstrations and leave the area immediately if unexpectedly in the vicinity of large gatherings or protests.
  • Do not attempt to drive through large groups or barricades encountered on the street.
  • Minimize your public activities. If you fear for your safety, leave the unsafe area as quickly as possible.
  • Monitor local media for updates. 100% Noticias, also known as Channel 15 or Channel 63 on cable, and Radio Corporación offer nearly 24/7 news coverage.

Please click through here for more information, including contact details.

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