New GIGA Focus Latin America | Closing Spaces: The Last Bulwark of Nicaraguan Civil Society under Attack

Désirée Reder. Closing Spaces: The Last Bulwark of Nicaraguan Civil Society under Attack.

GIGA Focus | Latin America | Number 01 | January 2023 | ISSN 1862-3573

Since 2018, the Daniel Ortega regime has led a systematic campaign of repression against Nicaragua’s once-vibrant civil society. Now it is attacking the last sanctuary of dissent: the Catholic Church. The latest arrests of clerics in Nicaragua resulted in international outrage. Pope Francis, who had long remained silent on the situation in Nicaragua, expressed his sincere concerns.

The comprehensive attacks against the Church are but another step in Ortega’s tightening authoritarian grip on the country. Since 2018, when nationwide street protests erupted, repression has characterised daily life in Nicaragua. The regime’s strategies of repression have evolved from indiscriminate violence against all stirrings of protest to more targeted forms of clamping down on dissent.

Some 396 state-driven acts of aggression against the Church in Nicaragua have been reported since April 2018. At the time of writing, 11 clerics are under arrest, at least two have been expelled, eight were denied re-entry to the country, and various Church-run media outlets have been shut down. The Catholic Church had been the last space where protest against state repression was still voiced.

Ortega’s “Christian rebirth” in his 2006 electoral campaign was key to his return to power. The current wave of repression against the Church marks a break with this alliance.

The recent wave of repression could backfire, with high costs for the government: in a predominantly Christian society, these attacks on the Church have caused indignation – even within the ruling party’s own ranks.

Policy Implications:

The Catholic Church needs to live up to its values and stand up to the Ortega regime. The European Union has imposed sanctions; however, it should pressure international organisations such as the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund to end loans to the regime that help stabilise its power. With universities having been closed, the EU should facilitate exiled Nicaraguan students finishing their degrees in Europe.

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REGARDS CNRS (2023, 12 enero). New GIGA Focus Latin America | Closing Spaces: The Last Bulwark of Nicaraguan Civil Society under Attack. Redial & Ceisal. Recuperado 22 de febrero de 2024, de https://doi.org/10.58079/thwy

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