Nicaragua Country Report
President Daniel Ortega of the left-wing FSLN party has governed Nicaragua since 2007, governing on an agenda of reduced business regulations and socio-economic development strategies while consolidating his political control of government institutions. Anti-government protests since 18 April organised by students, private business organisations, and peasant movements have called for Ortega's resignation as well as democratic and electoral reforms. The prolonged political crisis and social turbulence has served to disrupt regional cargo transit, domestic commerce, and the tourist trade. The main threat to Nicaragua's recovery is if Ortega refuses to leave office and implement early elections for 2019.
The operational environment in Nicaragua includes a number of significant challenges including limited infrastructure and extensive corruption. Poor quality infrastructure, transport networks, and utilities are regularly tested by protests and labour strikes, as well as severe weather events. Corruption among officials, cronyism, and connection-dependent contract negotiations often result in discrimination against firms lacking political connections, as well as regulatory and judicial delays. Generally positive security and economic indicators over the last decade have been disrupted by extended anti-government protests that are unlikely to be fully resolved before mid-2019.
There are no terrorist groups but several organised criminal organisations operating in Nicaragua. Traffickers tend to be concentrated in the country's autonomous regions along the Atlantic coast due to poor police coverage and easy access to trafficking routes. Anti-government armed groups like the right-leaning 're-Contras' and territorial disputes between indigenous communities and settlers in these regions have typically been the main sources of armed violence in Nicaragua. There is a moderate risk that growing anti-government protests throughout the country will encourage self-styled insurgent groups to pursue violent activities to oppose President Daniel Ortega.
Territorial disputes with Costa Rica and Colombia are unlikely to lead to armed conflict. A ruling on a maritime border dispute with Costa Rica from the International Court of Justice (ICJ) resulted in modest fines against Nicaragua in 2018. A lack of diplomatic resolution of a territorial dispute with Colombia increases the likelihood that fishing vessels will be seized and offshore oil concessions in the Caribbean may experience delays; although relations have improved since the removal of a 35% trade tariff on Colombian imports in March 2017. Colombia has a greater military capacity but open-war risks remain low.
Nationwide protests commenced 18 April 2018 demanding the resignation of President Daniel Ortega and his executive as well as democratic reforms and new elections for 2019. Demonstrations have decreased in size and frequency since police and paramilitaries broke up roadblocks using lethal force, but will continue periodically into 2019, with exiled leaders co-ordinating efforts from Costa Rica. The social unrest also has resulted in periodic cargo disruptions and a reported increase in opportunistic robberies and theft. Politically driven social unrest is likely to continue, particularly in the capital Managua and departmental capitals where opposition support is strong.
Vaccinations required to enter the country
Proof of vaccination against yellow fever is required if traveling from a country with risk of yellow fever transmission and over one year of age.
Hepatitis A: A vaccine is available for anyone over one year of age. The vaccine may not be effective for certain people, e.g. those born before 1945 and who lived as a child in a developing country and/or have a past history of jaundice (icterus). These people can instead get a shot of immune globulin (IG) to boost their immunity against the disease.
Hepatitis B: A vaccine is available for children at least two months old.
Diphtheria-Tetanus-Polio: A booster shot should be administered if necessary (once every ten years).
Typhoid Fever: If your travels take you to regions with poor sanitary conditions (for children two years old and up).
Rabies: For prolonged stays in an isolated region (for children from when they can walk).
Malaria: Recommended preventive medication - chloroquine (sometimes marketed as Nivaquine).
For Children: All standard childhood immunizations should be up-to-date. In the case of a long stay, the BCG vaccine is recommended for children over one month and the MMR (measles-mumps-rubella) vaccine for children over nine months.
The rainy season (April/May to October/November) often brings floods, particularly in September and October.
Furthermore, hurricanes and tropical storms have the potential to hit the country between June and November, during the Atlantic Hurricane Season. Hurricane Otto made landfall in the country in November 2016, causing infrastructural damage and resulting in several deaths.
Nicaragua is home to numerous active volcanoes including the Momotombo, Telica, Cerro, Masaya, and San Cristobal.
Earthquakes can strike at any time, notably along the Pacific Coast. There were a total of nine earthquakes with magnitudes of 5.0 or higher on the Richter scale in 2016. There is the risk of tsunamis in the event of an offshore earthquake.
The country, located in Central America's "Dry Corridor," regularly experiences droughts.
Despite years of steady economic growth, Nicaragua remains an impoverished country, the second poorest in the Americas after Haiti. As such, transportation, electrical, medical, and tourist infrastructure is lacking, particularly outside of cities, and is highly vulnerable in the event of natural disasters.
Nicaragua's climate is tropical, hot, and humid. The rainy season lasts from May until October in the west of the country and until January along the Caribbean coast where hurricanes can strike between July and October. Torrential rain is not rare and often causes flooding. It rains much more along the Caribbean coast than in the center of the country or along the Pacific coast.
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