Popular unrest amid a government crackdown continues in Nicaragua, with protests entering their sixth month. Such protests continue to occur on a regular basis and are repeatedly marred with violence. A demonstration held in the capital Managua on September 15 came under attack by gunmen on motorcycles, likely members of a pro-government militia; however, the government blamed the shootings on anti-government “terrorists.” At least two people were wounded. Continued protests are to be anticipated in the coming days and weeks. As with all demonstrations held in Nicaragua in the current sociopolitical climate, the risk of clashes with police and other violence is high.
The current unrest began with small student protests in Managua in mid-April before rapidly expanding. Regular protests have repeatedly led to deadly clashes, looting, and other violence throughout the country. Casualty figures vary by source, with more than 320 people believed to have been killed during protests. Many others have been reported missing (many likely being unlawfully detained by police), some 200 have been injured, and tens of thousands have fled the country.
Activists have accused the government and pro-government militias of committing serious human rights violations, including extrajudicial killings, using weapons of war against protesters, arbitrary detentions, torture, excessive use of force, raiding homes without a warrant, and attacking the press.
The World Medical Association (WMA) has also warned that the country’s health system has collapsed amid the crisis, with hospitals reportedly turning away injured protesters and doctors pressured by the government to refuse care; hundreds of doctors who treated protest victims have reportedly been fired or arrested. The ongoing violence has also prevented health workers from carrying out mosquito eradication efforts, increasing the risk of large-scale outbreaks of diseases such as dengue fever and malaria.
Individuals in Nicaragua are advised to closely monitor the situation, strictly avoid all protests due to the risk of violence and arrest, and adhere to any advice issued by their home governments. Some countries, including the US, the UK, and France, continue to advise their nationals to postpone nonessential travel to the country until further notice.