The June 23 BBC article by Bernd Debusmann, “US Immigration: They’d rather die than return to Nicaragua,” confirms that the corporate media consistently make every article an attack on its Sandinista Government.
Of four Nicaraguans interviewed for this article from the department of Esteli, two are peasants from villages, one is a housewife from a village and the fourth is a housewife from a small town. They all consider themselves Sandinistas and say they have benefitted from many government programs including training and small loans for production or small businesses. One has worked seasonally for more than twenty years in El Salvador, and two have worked seasonally in Costa Rica at least twice.
They say they decided to attempt the difficult journey north because family and friends over the last eighteen months have told them that once they cross into the U.S., just turn themselves into border agents and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) actually helps them get to their final destination. This proved true for all four after harrowing experiences along the way. Two were flown to Minnesota, one was flown to Miami and one was sent by bus to Houston.
In the U.S. Nicaraguan migrants are treated now with as much leniency as Cubans. In other words, the U.S. is clearly promoting migration to the U.S. by Nicaraguans since 2007. And Nicaragua has been left out of the Title 42 expulsions unlike Mexicans, Guatemalans, Salvadorans and Hondurans which have had much higher migration to the U.S. than Nicaragua since 2007, when a better government began in Nicaragua—a Sandinista government.
It should also be noted that US Border Patrol encounters are up with people from Mexico, Central America and the Caribbean since Covid, with further increases in 2021 and 2022.
The other reason that migration to the U.S. is up, is that, at least in Nicaragua, people heard from other Nicaraguans who have gone to the U.S., particularly since mid-2021 that it is fairly easy to get work and that the pay is good—U.S.$12 to US$18 an hour.
Those interviewed all said their plan is to work for two to three years sending money monthly to elderly parents and teenage children, then go back to their families to buy land, cattle or invest in a small business. The woman who went to Miami was reunited with her husband who has been in Miami working for 19 years without papers.
I know of no one going because they dislike the Sandinista government. You have only to visit Nicaragua to experience the amazing investment in everything that makes life better: universal health care and education, housing programs, every aspect of infrastructure to make the country runs smoothly, best roads in the region by far, government loans and training for small producers and small enterprisers, 90% food sovereignty, 99.2% of the population now has electricity, more than 90% have running water in their homes, electricity is now primarily generated by renewable sources, great investment in sports, recreation and parks and so much more.
Of course anyone going to work in the U.S. without papers is smart enough to tell immigration what they want to hear—they have come to escape tyranny. If they said “I love Nicaragua and am just here to work,” they would be deported. Migrants are smart.
Migration has increased substantially around the world because of the economic effects of Covid on economies. And aside from this, the U.S. applied sanctions to Nicaragua in 2018 and more sanctions in 2021. There were no new World Bank loans to Nicaragua from 2018 to November 2020 when finally there were small loans related to the effects of two strong hurricanes. The International Development Bank provided US$43 million in Covid-related aid in 2020 but provided US$1.8 billion to El Salvador.
Another factor that is pushing Nicaraguans north is that Costa Rica’s economy was very hard hit by Covid. Historically hundreds of thousands of Nicaraguans have gone to work yearly there. But in 2020 and 2021 more people returned to Nicaragua because of lack of work in Costa Rica. In 2021, total crossings were 228,000 and more were returning to Nicaragua. This would be another reason to look for work in the U.S..
The author says that people are also coming because of a “crackdown on civil society.” In the last four years some 440 nonprofit organizations have lost their tax-free status out of more than 6,000 non-profits. I’ve examined all the lists and the vast majority are non-profits that have not functioned in years.
And closing NGO’s is not unusual—this happens all over the world. Between 2006 and 2011 the IRS closed 279,000 out of 1.7 million nonprofits. 28,000 were closed in 2020 alone. In Great Britain about 4,000 a year are closed and in Australia 10,000 were closed in 2014, one-sixth of the total.
In 2020, Nicaragua followed the U.S. lead and created a Foreign Agents law that requires non-profits to share what foreign monies they receive and how the monies are used.
Since 2007 many non-profits acted as channeling vessels for funds from the U.S. National Endowment for Democracy, International Republican Institute, International Democratic Institute, Freedom House and especially the U.S. Agency for International Development; and also for money from Foundations that work closely with the U.S. government money like the Soros Foundation to Promote Open Society and others.
This money, to the tune of well over a half billion dollars channeled openly, was used for destabilization purposes and for the U.S. failed coup attempt of 2018. Those NGOs participating in the coup were shut down first with good evidence of fraud, treason and money laundering and other crimes that are crimes around the world.
The Financial Action Task Force (FATF) set up by the G7 imposed rules that apply globally. Nicaragua was praised by the FATC for its compliance with things like stopping money laundering.
Although there must be people who don’t like the Nicaraguan government, this is not the reason more people have tried their luck at the American dream in the last 18 months. On November 7, 2021 more than 65% of registered voters voted for President Daniel Ortega giving him more than 75% of the votes. Current polls show the same citizen approval. Travel to Nicaragua, talk with everyone you meet, do some investigation.
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About the Author
Nan McCurdy works for the United Methodist Church in the state of Puebla, Mexico with Give Ye Them to Eat (GYTTE), a ministry with impoverished rural people that works in community-based health, sustainable agriculture, and community development specializing in appropriate technologies.
Nan is also the editor of the weekly on Nicaragua, NicaNotes.