neier56_MANDEL NGANAFPGetty Images_daniel ortega Mandel Ngan/AFP/Getty Images

What Will Decide Nicaragua’s Fate?

Venezuela is no longer providing large amounts of funding to Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega, but it is still providing a distraction. If Nicolás Maduro's government falls, international attention will likely shift to Nicaragua, and the pressure on Ortega to step down will probably intensify.

NEW YORK – The catastrophic collapse of Venezuela has grabbed global headlines, and for good reason. But the coverage has obscured the similarly intense – and closely linked – struggle in nearby Nicaragua.

The Nicaraguan crisis erupted last April, when paramilitary groups loyal to the government – so-called grupos de choque – violently crushed a small protest against just-announced pension reforms. The episode triggered more demonstrations, which were met with more repression, carried out both by grupos de choque and security forces. As the casualties piled up – at least 325 protesters have been killed so far, more than in Venezuela, and another 700 have been jailed – anger at President Daniel Ortega continued to grow.

For now, an opposition group known as the Civic Alliance for Justice and Democracy (ACJD) is engaged in dialogue with the Ortega government, in the hopes of negotiating a peaceful resolution to the crisis. The negotiations have already broken down once, soon after they were first launched in May 2018. But this past February, at Ortega’s request, they were resumed.

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