A ‘reign of fear’ takes hold in Nicaragua with new crackdown
2018 saw a protest movement emerge in Nicaragua against authoritarian president Daniel Ortega, which was violently repressed by police and paramilitary groups, killing 324. This crackdown has continued and intensified, with any media and human rights groups critical of the government being completely shutdown and having to operate covertly. “The government is trying to shut down all political dissidence and impose a reign of fear and terror, targeting its opponents,” stated the director of the human rights commission of the Organization of American States (OAS). Last month, OAS investigators who had been removed from the country declared that the actions of security forces during the violent crackdown should be considered crimes against humanity. The government has countered saying that the group was simply “echoing the policies of the government of the USA against Nicaragua.” Ortega was the most prominent leader in the left-wing Sandinista rebel group that overthrew dictator Debacle in 1979. He then led the government until losing the presidential election in 1990. After regaining the presidency in 2006, however, he consolidated power and gained control of the courts, National Assembly, police and other important institutions. With no strong opposition parties, civic groups and the media formed the backbone of the opposition. While the protests against the government have been quashed, the economy has contracted and there is large scale private opposition to his rule.