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For Community-Driven Global Development

Political Unrest in Nicaragua: Supporting the Community from Within

After more than 20 years of operations in Nicaragua, we have been called to respond to the current political crisis with care and compassion as well as to lay the foundation for recovery.

On April 18, 2018, violence broke out throughout Nicaragua after President Daniel Ortega announced a social security reform that would hit the middle class and businesses very hard. This announcement resulted in protests throughout the country, many of which turned violent due to heavy police interventions. The police was seen to use live ammunition on protesters and at least 30 people died during the initial days of chaos throughout Nicaragua.

That was only the beginning. Over the past 11 years, Ortega has slowly consolidated power in Nicaragua. That he and his government could decree such controversial and far-reaching changes without significant dialogue or debate was a wake-up call to many. That’s why even though Ortega rescinded the social security reform, protests have continued.

What’s happening in Nicaragua is about so much more than social security reform. It is a battle for control of the future of the country. The stakes are high for everyone involved. As with many socio-political conflicts, it’s not black and white. Both sides want to control the narrative of what is happening and channel public sentiment--and thus momentum--in their favor. The competing narratives and conflicting “facts” make it hard to know who is really doing what to whom. What is certain, however, is that there are scores of dead and wounded as a result of confrontations between government forces and protesters. Peace talks have failed, again, today May 31, after a Mother’s Day protest on May 30th turned violent. With the church pulling out of its mediator role, it seems like that the violence will continue. This social trauma continues to have an adverse effect on citizens who are struggling to live their lives while praying for peace to return to their communities.

FSD has been working in Nicaragua since 1995 and we are truly devastated to see our friends and colleagues suffer through civil unrest. We have had to suspend operations in Nicaragua, cancel internships, and focus our efforts on supporting our partners and the communities where we work. Based out of Ciudad Sandino, Nicaragua, Maria de Jesus Zepeda, our Program Director, has witnessed first-hand the difficult situation we and our partners are now facing in Nicaragua. She notes that “All of our partners are being affected. Many are struggling economically and cannot staff their offices at full capacity anymore.” Others are unreachable due to roadblocks or marches, so they are unable to offer services. Continuing, Maria says that “some of our partners have been helping those who have been injured during the marches through the provision of medicine, food, and water.”

We are doing all we can to continue to support Nicaragua through this turbulent time. Maria, who holds a master’s degree in psychology has advised that there will be a lot of dialogue during this transition and many of our partners will be working with those most affected. We will continue to work with our partners to provide support and advice to assist them as their priorities and programming shifts to support a changing Nicaragua.

While supporting international internships to university students is an important part of what we do, FSD has always been an organization focused on the community. We are dedicated to community development and supporting our partners through their hardships. This critical juncture in Nicaragua’s history presents us with an opportunity to leverage our community presence to strengthen our partners through capacity building so that when the dust has settled, we will be in a stronger position to support the citizens who are currently working to make Nicaragua a more fair and just nation. The need to support our communities is urgent and we invite you to join us at this time in supporting Nicaragua and donate to our capacity building and support for the victims of the violent protests. You can make your donation here, simply select Nicaragua Support in the drop-down menu.