Nicaragua is not the type of country that makes the front pages of European newspapers. Nevertheless, the human rights situation in Nicaragua has been steadily deteriorating over the past few years.
Although the constitution in the past did not allow the president to be elected repeatedly, DanieI Ortega was re-elected for a second term. Then, in 2014, the constitution was the amended to make it possible for the president to be elected to an unlimited number of terms, while also giving the president direct control over the army and the police. As a result of this constitutional change and the extensive persecution of the opposition, President Ortega was able to hold on to the office, winning the presidency for third time in the 2016 elections.
As in the past, foreign observers were not allowed to monitor the election process. Most of the media is owned by the state or by pro-government businesspeople. The space for independent non-government organisations is getting smaller. State universities do not allow these organisations to deliver lectures to students. In reaction to this situation, ever more frequent voices are heard opposing the current government. Those who wish to participate in demonstrations are forbidden to travel to the venues of protests and demonstrators are often dispersed by force.
Civil society support
In Nicaragua the space for independent civic organisations activity is getting even smaller. For this reason, our focus is on working with non-government organisations whose operations are being hampered. The most common form of help is through the distribution of small grants that we provide to local partners implementing their own projects. One of the most important projects in Nicaragua implemented with our support is the human rights film festival MAS. We have extensive experience from organising the human rights documentary film festival One World, so we have been able to support MAS not only financially but by offering training to the organisers and sharing our know-how. Other projects concentrate for instance on the development of critical thinking abilities of young people and improving the well-being of women in Nicaraguan society.
Since the situation in Nicaragua is entirely unknown to most Europeans, People in Need helps civic society organisations in raising awareness about their work and the political situation in the country. We subsidise journeys by the representatives from civil society to different international meetings with the aim of gaining wider support for policies that protect human rights in the country.