Nicaragua continues to struggle after decades of violent conflict fueled by political polarization, inequality, poverty, and the exclusion of indigenous and other marginalized groups. Over the past several years, however, there has been a strong push to organize citizens across ideological and political divides to create a demand for peace and secure a voice for all Nicaraguans in governing. USIP supports local democratic actors, including religious leaders and youth peacebuilders, to bolster their efforts to promote channels of dialogue and consensus-building to help to overcome damaging polarization and strengthen the country’s social fabric.
In recent months, Nicaragua’s government has escalated its effort to silence dissent by waging a systematic campaign of repression against the Catholic Church. Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega and Vice President Rosario Murillo’s crackdown on clergy and church-affiliated organizations critical of their authoritarian regime not only threatens Nicaragua’s religious freedom but also erects significant roadblocks to the country’s return to peace and democracy.
El gobierno de Nicaragua ha intensificado su enfrentamiento con una de las instituciones de mayor arraigo e históricamente poderosas del país: la Iglesia Católica. La policía allanó la rectoría episcopal en la ciudad norteña de Matagalpa el 19 de agosto y arrestó a un obispo, cinco sacerdotes y dos seminaristas. En las últimas semanas, el presidente Daniel Ortega cerró siete estaciones de radio católicas, expulsó a misioneras y prohibió las procesiones religiosas en un esfuerzo por silenciar a la disidencia, incluso arriesgando contrariar a la fervientemente católica población del país.
The Nicaraguan government has intensified its confrontation with one of the country’s most popular and historically powerful institutions: the Catholic Church. Police raided the episcopal rectory in the northern city of Matagalpa on August 19, placing a bishop, five priests and two seminarians under arrest. In recent weeks, President Daniel Ortega has shut down seven Catholic radio stations, expelled missionaries and banned religious processions in an effort to silence dissent — even at the risk of alienating the country’s fervently Catholic population.