Tiziano Breda

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If sanctions failed to solve Nicaragua’s crisis, will more sanctions succeed?

A few months ago in Managua, a leading figure of the opposition met me at an exclusive club frequented by critics of the government for meetings and press conferences, often under the watchful eye of the police. Before excusing himself to join his daughter’s graduation, he told me that if President Daniel Ortega were to win elections later this year, business leaders should forget past differences and “get together with him again, there’s no other way.” The man I met is now in jail, completely incommunicado, and reportedly without access to the medical care he requires. He has been accused of “betraying the homeland.”…  Seguir leyendo »

A defaced mural of Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega in Catarina, Nicaragua, May 7, 2018 (AP photo by Moises Castillo).

It’s hard to imagine that three years ago, Nicaragua was rocked by huge anti-government protests that paralyzed the country before being ruthlessly quashed. Today, despite the COVID-19 pandemic and a lack of vaccines, the capital, Managua, is abuzz with activity. Shopping malls are teeming, while the intersections are crowded with beggars and vendors. Everyday life in this Central American country seems to have returned to normal. Visible scars of the 2018 unrest remain only in the form of graffiti, although many of the protest slogans have been daubed over with pro-government messages proclaiming, “The commander remains”—a reference to President Daniel Ortega.…  Seguir leyendo »

Bukele and The Gangs of El Salvador

Not long before the pandemic touched down in El Salvador, which over the years has been the Central American country hardest hit by gang violence, the nation was inching toward a precarious peace. In downtown San Salvador, the capital, tags daubed by gangs on roadside walls had been painted over with graffiti. When we visited the nearby neighborhood of Iberia, a traditional gang fiefdom, their presence was also less apparent, though certain rules still had to be obeyed. We lowered our car windows as we entered, a practice MS-13 imposes to spot outsiders. Minutes later, a young man approached us, selling packets of potato chips and asking a few pointed questions.…  Seguir leyendo »

A man watches a TV broadcast of Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega in Managua, Nicaragua 21 February 2019. REUTERS / Oswaldo Rivas

Why is Nicaragua having a national dialogue?

On 27 February, government and extra-parliamentary opposition representatives began a second round of dialogue with the aim of resolving the turmoil triggered by last year’s uprising, which the government met with lethal violence. More than 325 people, mainly opponents of President Daniel Ortega, have lost their lives in clashes between protesters and police and para-police, while 777 are held in prison or under house arrest, according to the Committee for Liberation of Political Prisoners, a local civil society organisation. Protests started in April 2018, when Ortega announced the terms of a highly unpopular reform to the social security system, and soon ballooned into a full-scale revolt including mass marches, roadblocks and the establishment of opposition-controlled territories after security forces initiated a brutal crackdown.…  Seguir leyendo »