Nicaragua expels EU ambassador | Current America | DW

Nicaragua, Managua |  Police forces block a street

It is a clear signal: Anyone who criticizes will be kicked out. The EU ambassador, the German Bettina Muscheidt, was escorted to the airport by police officers on her departure from Nicaragua after she had previously been declared persona non grata. According to the Nicaraguan government, the background to this is the demand by the EU delegation at the UN General Assembly last week to release “political prisoners”. The EU has long criticized the detention of more than 200 opposition figures, including seven candidates for the 2021 presidential election.

The Hague: “Disproportionate response”

Nicaragua has also severed all ties with the Dutch government. The government in Managua described the Netherlands as “interventionist” and “neo-colonial” after its ambassador Christine Pirenne announced that her country would not finance the construction of a hospital as part of the bilateral cooperation. The Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs condemned this “regrettable” and “disproportionate response to a critical message about democracy and human rights”.

Nicaragua, Managua |  Police forces block a street

Nicaragua’s government is taking action against opposition figures with a heavy hand and the police – here during the search of the house of a presidential candidate in 2021

The Netherlands had repeatedly warned Nicaragua about the “deterioration of the situation” in the Central American country. However, these appeals went unanswered and ultimately led to the cancellation of the financing project, which had been suspended since 2018. “The Netherlands are discussing with their European partners how we will react to this decision,” the government said in The Hague. She indicated that she may want to change the travel advice for its citizens in Nicaragua.

US ambassador rejected

Managua had also previously rejected the designated US ambassador to Nicaragua. US President Joe Biden has now backed the diplomat. Hugo Rodríguez continues to enjoy the “full confidence of the President,” said a spokesman for the US State Department in Washington. During his hearing before the US Senate, Rodríguez “accurately reflected the non-partisan political positions” of the USA. Nicaragua announced on Friday that it would refuse entry to the new US ambassador because of his “interfering” attitude.

Rodríguez had described Nicaragua as a “pariah state in the region” and branded Ortega’s government a “dictatorship”. He would support the use of “all economic and diplomatic means to bring about a change of direction” in Nicaragua. As a result, Managua withdrew its consent to the diplomat.

Nicaragua had already expelled the Vatican’s apostolic nuncio, Waldemar Sommertag, seven months ago. At the time, the Papal States expressed their “lack of understanding” about the decision.

View of a church room, in the foreground a photo of Alvarez with Pope Francis

Bishop Rolando Alvarez, who was critical of the government, was also arrested in August

Criticism of Ortega’s leadership

Over the past four years, the EU and the US have imposed numerous sanctions on Nicaragua and representatives of its left-wing leadership. The punitive measures were primarily justified with human rights violations in the Central American country. In 2018, demonstrations for the resignation of long-time left-wing head of state Daniel Ortega were bloodily suppressed. According to human rights organizations, at least 355 people were killed at the time.

In the 2021 election, with the country’s most influential opposition politicians imprisoned or in exile, former guerrilla commander Ortega was re-elected to a fourth term. Ortega and his wife, Vice President Rosario Murillo, have accused the US of planning a coup d’état against them, with the support of the Catholic Church.

fab/qu (afp, rtre)


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