Nicaragua Foreign Policy

The Ortega government has made demonstrative efforts since 2008 to counter the country’s traditional dependence on the United States, and it has established close ties with the Maduro government in Venezuela, Cuba and other left-wing governments in Latin America. The new partners also include Russia and Iran. Ortega was particularly interested in joining the new “Community of Latin American and Caribbean States” (CELAC). CELAC was founded in Caracas in 2011 and wanted to become an independent alternative to the OAS. With the crisis in Venezuela and the political right-wing developments in Brazil, Bolivia and other countries, the political prerequisites for this project are no longer applicable.

Despite the solidarity with the critical US governments in the region, business relations with the US, its most important trading partner, have developed normally since April 2018 until the current crisis, and direct investment from the north kept reaching new highs. As one of countries in Central America according to ethnicityology, Nicaragua is still a member of the Central American Free Trade Area CAFTA, it fulfills its debt obligations and comes to an understanding with the International Monetary Fund. For a long time Ortega’s administration in Washington received little attention. He accepted free trade and guaranteed the security of North American investments. The political stability and economic prosperity of his regime helped to limit the migration of migrants to the north. Obviously he had bought a certain amount of freedom of action in foreign policy. This probably also included the handover of his sewer project to a major entrepreneur from the People’s Republic of China. Washington’s noticeable reluctance to answer this question was certainly related from the outset to the assessment that the project would never be realized anyway.

The current crisis in Nicaragua, which has led to mass protests against the Ortega government and massive human rights violations since April 18, 2018, has exacerbated the simmering conflicts with the US and the international community. Washington has sharply criticized the government in Managua and has repeatedly made a connection with the crisis in Venezuela. The Trump administration has repeatedly contacted the opposition and held new elections in Nicaragua. The first sanctions under the Magnitsky Act (applicable to suspected corruption and human rights violations) were imposed on Daniel Ortega’s close employees. However, these measures have not yet increased into immediately dangerous threats of intervention. As long as the army is undoubtedly loyal to President Ortega, Washington is apparently content with economic sanctions and political declarations. It may be waiting for the Ortega regime to fall further into political and economic isolation. The overthrow of Bolivian President Evo Morales in November 2019 shows that Latin America could develop in this direction. In the Organization of American States OAS, which in the person of its General Secretary Almagro supported Ortega after the last elections, the Nicaraguan government has now lost decisive ground. Since the spring of 2018, a majority in the OAS has repeatedly condemned the human rights violations, the repression and the violations of democratic rules by the Ortega regime. Working groups were set up several times to go to Nicaragua to look for solutions to the crisis and to support the national dialogue. But they could not fulfill their mission because Managua was not ready to talk and the diplomats repeatedly refused entry. who are going to Nicaragua, looking for solutions to the crisis and supporting the national dialogue. But they could not fulfill their mission because Managua was not ready to talk and the diplomats repeatedly refused entry. who are going to Nicaragua, looking for solutions to the crisis and supporting the national dialogue. But they could not fulfill their mission because Managua was not ready to talk and the diplomats repeatedly refused entry.

Since 2008 there have been repeated conflicts with the USA and the international donor community over the political conditions of development cooperation. Given the country’s particular dependence on international financial aid and Ortega’s blatant violations of the principle of “good governance”, this is a particularly sensitive point in external relations. Since 2010, important donor countries such as Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland and now also Germany and Finland have cut their bilateral development cooperation significantly or completely stopped. So far, however, Ortega has managed to compensate for the losses due to donations from other countries.

Nicaragua maintains close political and economic relations with its Central American neighbors and is a member of the SICA integration process. A coordination of interests is necessary, for example, because of migration, the environment and many other cross-border problems. Despite regular consultations with the presidents of the region, there are always differences of opinion on fundamental political issues and tangible conflicts.

Nicaragua has border conflicts with Colombia, Honduras and Costa Rica. The historic dispute with Costa Rica over the use of the border river Río San Juan appeared to be settled by an arbitration ruling by the International Court of Justice in July 2009. The river has belonged to the territory of Nicaragua since the treaty of 1858, but the Costa Ricans have the right to free navigation and local use, which is particularly lucrative for tourism. In October 2010 Nicaragua began dredging to make the silted up lower reaches of the San Juan navigable again. Various disputes quickly escalated and the Costa Rican government made grave allegations of a military violation of its territory. Ortega countered this with a nationalist agitation and did not miss the opportunity to capitalize on it domestically.Has issued an arbitration award. It states that Nicaragua has violated the sovereignty and the territory of Costa Rica and also has to pay damages. The Ortega government had to accept this ruling and thereby inflicted a serious defeat on itself. The Hague Court set the amount of payments to Costa Rica in February 2018. In times of Central American integration efforts, such an outbreak of nationalistic threatening gestures can only shake your head.

In the long-standing conflict with Colombia over the maritime borders in the area of the islands of San Andrés and Providencia, the International Court of Justice issued an arbitration decision in November 2012. This saying turned out to be very favorable for Nicaragua. He grants Nicaragua a marine area of ​​approx. 75,000 km2, which was previously controlled by Colombia. Oil deposits are suspected here and exploration will begin fairly quickly.

Daniel Ortega and Nicolás Maduro