Wednesday, June 7, 2023

More Nicaraguans are leaving their country and remittances from the US are increasing.

Each month, Antón Martínez sets aside $200 from his salary as a dishwasher in the United States to send to his mother in Nicaragua.

Martínez, 38, wishes it were more, but is still trying to find a place in his new country and pay off his immigration debt.

His monthly contribution to the family was part of a 50% increase in remittances to Nicaragua in 2022, a huge jump that analysts attribute to the thousands of Nicaraguans who have immigrated to the United States in the past two years.

That migration has come about as Daniel Ortega’s government has intensified its repression of opposition votes since early 2021. In addition, high global inflation is eroding household purchasing power and employment in the Central American country remains limited.


This wave of Nicaraguan migrants to the United States was, in part, why the Joe Biden administration announced in January that it would begin refusing them at the border if they did not first register online to apply for asylum. Since then, their numbers have declined rapidly.

But Martínez, who arrived in late 2021, and others already there, keep Nicaragua’s economy going with the more than $3.2 billion they sent to their country last year.

This massive increase “can only be explained by the disproportionate increase in emigrants,” Nicaraguan economist Enrique Sáenz told The Associated Press.

Emigration “has become (Ortega’s) most important macroeconomic policy and his most important social policy,” he added.

Ortega’s increasingly authoritarian government has faced sanctions from the US and European governments, but the measures are aimed at his inner circle and members of his administration to prevent the average Nicaraguan from further economic hardship.

Still, in the fiscal year that ended last September, U.S. authorities recorded more than 163,000 encounters with Nicaraguans, more than triple the number in 2021. The number of encounters peaked at more than 35,000 in December, then dropped to 3,377 in January.

The reasons range from the lack of economic opportunity to the direct persecution of political opponents and dissenting voices. Ortega has been violently cracking down on social protests since April 2018 and ramping up the repression in 2021 ahead of elections in which he was re-elected to a fourth term without any real opponent.

Earlier this month, the Sandinista government put 222 released opponents on a plane to Washington, saying it was sending “terrorists” and “mercenaries” back to their foreign patron.

Until 2022, Costa Rica has been the top destination for Nicaraguans in recent years. But the small neighboring country’s asylum system is overwhelmed, the wait has been going on for years now and the economy is struggling to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic.

Costa Rican President Rodrigo Chaves tightened the generous asylum system in December, arguing that economic immigrants were taking advantage of it.

These factors made the United States a more attractive destination despite its distance. Ortega has blamed the emigration on Washington sanctions.

In Martínez’s case, he left because he had taken part in the 2018 anti-government protests and feared he would be arrested at any moment. “I miss my mother and I love Nicaragua, but there was nothing else to do. It was either leave or go to jail at some point,” he said.

Many others came to the same decision.

The Nicaraguan government released data showing that 20,192 new passports had been issued between September 17 and October 7, 2022. In the capital, residents camped on the sidewalks to get one of the limited numbers of people who could process a passport application.

Sabrina Gazol Moncada, a 28-year-old university student who had to drop out to look for work, left Nicaragua in October, a month after her husband also traveled to the United States “wet”.

“It’s a very hard decision to make because eventually you leave your country, your family, the people who support you and love you,” he told the Associated Press.

Gazol traveled north with about 200 other people on buses, on foot and in vans. After three weeks of an often arduous and terrifying journey across Central America and Mexico, Gazol crossed the Rio Grande River at Eagle Pass, Texas, turned himself in to Border Patrol and began his asylum application process.

In Nicaragua, “people who do not belong to the Ortega regime are threatened and persecuted, there is no freedom of expression,” he said.

He has not been able to send money home since arriving in the United States as he is still awaiting permission to work while seeking asylum.

“In Nicaragua, the government is doing what it wants and everyone is looking for a way out,” he said. “Eventually Nicaragua will run out of young people, it will be a ghost country.”

World Nation News Desk
World Nation News Desk
World Nation News is a digital news portal website. Which provides important and latest breaking news updates to our audience in an effective and efficient ways, like world’s top stories, entertainment, sports, technology and much more news.
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