Many Nicaraguans Seek To Flee The Country

As the crisis worsens in Nicaragua, pressure on the part of society that demands the resignation of President Daniel Ortega remains. This generates that, in many cities like Masaya, the streets are blocked with more than 200 barricades while their neighbors organize to guarantee security and collect food for the protesters who are entrenched, resisting the paramilitary siege against the city. However, there has been an overflow of passport applications in recent weeks.

Immigration office in San Jose, Costa Rica. More than 500 Nicaraguans on Thursday alone were seeking refuge in the neighboring country. Photo

Demonstrators, mostly students, barricade behind blockades as a way to protest and protect themselves from the police and para-police repression of the Ortega regime. The socio-political crisis has already left 162 people dead, according to human rights associations, due to clashes that have lasted almost two months.

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Thursday began with a national strike of 24 hours called by the Civic Alliance for Justice and Democracy and left 2 dead, one of them a boy of 15 years who was shot in the chest in the city of León. The strike, symbolic, sought to demand the end of government repression ahead the resumption of the national dialogue on Friday.

However, the violent state repression has caused thousands of Nicaraguans now desperately seeking to process migration documents to flee to neighboring countries in Central America, like Costa Rica, the main destination of Nicaraguans since the civil war of the eighties between the Sandinistas of President Daniel Ortega and the US-backed contras.

According to Costa Rica’s Directorate of Immigration and Immigration, on Thursday alone, they received more than 500 applications at its central offices in San Jose.

This figure is higher than the 488 refugee requests made in the first days of June, and at 88 May and 24 April.

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At the Peñas Blancas border between Nicaragu and Costa Rica the movement south has increased, while movement into Nicaragua is almost nil.

In Nicaragaua, the barrage of passport applications has increased dramatically in the past two weeks. The rows in immigration offices are endless, as families and young people try to leave.

Nubia Manzanares, a migration agent, told AFP that “thousands of people come to ask about paperwork” every day.

For her part, Costa Rican Foreign Minister Epsy Alejandra Campbell Barr said last week that her government is prepared for a massive influx of Nicaraguans. Costa Ricaa also said days ago that it would provide visas to relatives of diplomats accredited in Nicaragua who want to leave.

Despite social and political pressures, everything seems to indicate that Daniel Ortega is determined to stay, and willing to continue the bloody clashes between armed forces supported by the government and activists who fight with homemade mortars and slings. “Regardless of the human cost,” Núñez said, Ortega will try to “navigate among the rubble and reach the end.”

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