Nicaraguans Plead for International Help, Daily Brief July 17, 2023

Daily Brief July 17, 2023.


European and Latin American leaders are meeting in Brussels today and tomorrow for a major international gathering bringing together the two regions.

The European Union – Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (EU-CELAC) summit is the first such top-level meeting in eight years. Heads of state and government are expected to discuss trade, combatting climate change, and Russia’s war on Ukraine.

On human rights, in addition to the Kremlin’s atrocity-ridden invasion, there are a number of issues that deserve attention. For example, it would be good to see Latin American and Caribbean leaders call out the EU and its member states for their “let them die” policy toward migrants and asylum seekers in the Mediterranean Sea.

And in the Americas, governments from both the region and Europe should prioritize the human rights crisis in Nicaragua. A group of 160 Nicaraguan victims have signed a letter with 29 national, regional, and international human rights organizations, asking leaders meeting in Brussels to do just that.

Since a brutal crackdown on protesters in April 2018, Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega has targeted anyone perceived as a government critic. A UN expert report in March highlighted murder, imprisonment, torture, sexual violence, forced deportation, and persecution on political grounds – concluding these abuses likely added up to crimes against humanity. 

Signatories of the new letter include dozens of Nicaraguans who have suffered for years from such abuses.

Several governments in Latin America, as well as the European External Action Service (EEAS), have publicly condemned Nicaraguan government abuses. However, these efforts have so far lacked the coordination and sustained effort needed to push for the release of political prisoners, accountability, and steps toward recovering democracy.

The new letter calls on leaders from the Americas, together with the EU and its member states, to establish a new body – a Group of Friends of the Nicaraguan People. This group would coordinate the international response toward Nicaragua and help push for a democratic transition.

Nicaragua’s people are crying out for help and support. Let’s hope leaders at this week’s summit hear them.