Nicaragua Orders Closure of Red Cross

Nicaragua Orders Closure of Red Cross
Last updated May 11, 2023
Image credit: Reuters [via Al Jazeera]


  • On Wednesday, Nicaraguan lawmakers voted to dissolve the local branch of the Red Cross, a nonprofit humanitarian organization, as part of an alleged clampdown on groups seen as hostile to the government of Daniel Ortega.[1]
  • The National Assembly voted to shut down the Nicaraguan Red Cross, accusing it of "attacks on peace and stability" during antigovernment demonstrations in 2018. The local Red Cross says it merely helped injured demonstrators.[2]
  • The Nicaraguan legislature, dominated by Daniel Ortega's Sandinista party, has ordered the country's Health Department to create a new Red Cross by seizing their properties. The current Red Cross was founded in 1958 and is largely funded by domestic donations.[3]
  • Human rights groups estimate that during the government's crackdown on protests in 2018, 355 people were killed, and as many as 2K were injured.[4]
  • Since the crackdown, the government has reportedly jailed or exiled almost all of the country's organized opposition and outlawed or closed down more than 3K civic groups and non-governmental organizations.[4]
  • Meanwhile, Pres. Ortega has accused civic groups and opposition activists of working with foreign interests in an attempt to overturn his government.[5]


Pro-establishment narrative

Nicaragua is a dictatorship and emblematic of a broader trend of democratic backsliding across Latin America that likely spells trouble to the US in the form of political upheaval and increased migration. The Ortega-Murillo regime continuously dishonors past commitments to democracy, and shutting down civil society is an act of an increasingly paranoid and corrupt government.

Establishment-critical narrative

Ortega has more than one reason not to trust the US and the US-backed opposition. As the leader of Nicaragua's left-wing Sandinista revolution, Ortega brought down the dictator Anastasio Somoza García and the then US-sponsored rebels, the Contras, who tried to block his move into legitimate power. The impact of the Contra war and subsequent US sanctions has made the economic reconstruction of Nicaragua impossible.

Establishment split



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