Nothing New

COVID-19 shook the world months ago, presenting a swift shock to many. But for others, such serious and dangerous life circumstances are all they have ever known. Nicaragua has been in a national crisis for two years, with no relief or resolution on the horizon. The resistance of their government, led by President Ortega, to peaceful negotiations prolongs the issue of corrupted rule and the suffocation of human rights. Thousands of Nicaraguans have lost their voices at best or lives at worst while trying to peacefully bring back stability ever since violent conflict erupted in the spring of 2018 between Ortega and citizens. Can other countries idly look on and wait for Nicaragua to resolve itself, or should foreign countries respond? There are countless factors to consider for a situation that eludes peaceful solutions. Since vocalizing disapproval is insufficient, individuals in foreign countries should consider offering aid to Nicaraguans, especially in the current context of the pandemic, to increase pressure on Ortega.

Minding Our Own Business

Many people are likely wary towards the idea of getting involved with another country’s conflict. The aspect of personal responsibility and having reservations about selfpreservation prevent foreigners from doing much more than giving sympathetic sighs. Granted, the extent of intervention that foreign countries participate in is a controversial subject. Perhaps each country should be responsible for itself and be left alone. But this idea does not hold well when considering that the effects of such a crisis as Nicaragua’s ongoing conflict influences many surrounding countries. While Nicaragua is not on the center stage of the world, and while there are numerous alarming flaws in need of attention around the globe, turning our backs does not seem like the best choice because their struggles affect many others. 

Examining just the numbers of refugees fleeing Nicaragua alone, it is clear that the burdens of this issue are felt beyond Nicaragua’s borders as regions in Costa Rica, Panama, and even Europe are making space for the tens of thousands of refugees. Their bordering countries are also harmed by Nicaragua’s lack of vigilance as places like Costa Rica recover but are jeopardized by uncontrolled environments nearby. Again, it is notable that the climate of one country inevitably spills over to all that are in any way linked to it. This phenomenon of interconnected countries can present a domino effect when hardship strikes, and paints a striking picture of the true impact of one country’s conflict. It definitely reveals that the struggle of one actually affects many more people than the news headlines may divulge. Nicaragua’s unhealthy condition is not a limited ordeal that their people or government are capable or willing of mending. And with the spread of their struggle into other countries, foreign aid must respond to the effects of this unjustly rooted conflict, which has sprouted into a much larger canopy of dissension. 

America Entered the Scene

Focusing on ways to push back Ortega is the crux of a solution since negotiations fell flat and the dictator refuses to step down from his long overdue reign. Was there static silence in 2018 when the violence broke out in Nicaragua against the peacefully protesting civilians? America did actually respond along with many other countries who were alarmed by the events. The United States channeled its financial aid in favor of civil rights groups instead of the Nicaraguan government, constantly supporting human rights. However, the response of the many councils and countries like America only yielded actions such as calling for reform and encouraging Ortega to agree to dialogue and stop his unjust methods of crushing the people’s voices through violence and propaganda. Ortega hardly acknowledged any interventions, and even banned many foreign aid organizations. This indifference communicates the empty threats that foreign countries present to Ortega. He is confident that his actions will continue to go unchecked and unchallenged, which is a scary thought. There has been no effective action of foreign countries to intervene or put increased pressure on Ortega, as evidenced by the still stifled nation. 

After two years of mostly just observing the tragic evidence of human rights violations in Nicaragua, The United Nations Human Rights Council recently concluded that such violations must cease. This sounds like a big announcement of progress, but practically, what does it mean? Can we truly expect Ortega to listen to the current calls to stop his inhumane governing when he has ignored all previous ones? The Council’s united decision implies that they strongly value human rights and do not condone such violently unjust acts of the government that disregard such rights. But this conclusion must not settle as it is; it must lead to direct action against Ortega’s regime by targeting his military strength and political supporters. Making more changes with governmental financial support would also help defund his command, as it is noted that without a challenge of pressure, Ortega will not take any efforts to stop him seriously. This demands foreign countries to rise to this occasion if they truly believe in the human rights that they proclaim. 

Pausing At The Pandemic

It likely sounds overwhelming to work on dismantling an entire country’s corrupted government, but this can be approached by individuals within foreign countries as well; fighting for human rights is not just for governments. The Council’s recognition of ending Ortega’s brutal practices comes at a challenging time. The global pandemic is yet another reason to be concerned for Nicaragua. While countries all around the world are struggling, Nicaragua as a whole does not have the resources to fight the virus nor an economy with cushioning. Thus, its citizens are still pushed to go to work in order to keep the country from falling apart economically while the virus spreads and weakens the nation in other ways amidst the power hungry leadership, which featured no plans to protect the people at all. As many individuals are globally affected by the pandemic, we can relate with the varying degrees of its impact. Simple acts as neighbors reach out to one another or friends drop off care packages or even send messages of encouragement suddenly mean a lot more to us than they used to. This concept can similarly be applied to a nation’s amplified pandemic experience. While we cannot expect to rid Nicaragua of the Ortega regime overnight, it is the small actions of others that strengthen the victims. Individuals must recognize the relevancy in supporting others even in foreign countries because we cannot depend on the governments to take all the steps on their own. As individuals ideally support their own ruling bodies, they should extend that support to other groups when other ruling bodies violate just leadership. Acknowledging the freedom that we have is the first step towards using and sharing it with others who are suffering. 

Our Move

Considering the pandemic on top of the draining injustices under the Nicaraguan government, it may feel like there is not much we can actually do as individuals, especially since our own magnified lifestyles surround us. However, there are always ways to contribute to justice. Offering financial aid and elevating the voices of those suffering are important and valuable steps we can take to support our fellow people through many organizations, which can also be used to educate ourselves. In a world of networking, we are familiar with the abundance of information we are daily fed, and we can be mindful of which news stories we click on. Working to help Nicaragua in their plight may not be our highest priority, but let us not forget the suffering people around the world. We cannot cure this on our own, but every voice counts if we truly believe every voice matters. The trick is that such voices must be moving actively and not just summoning equal treatment from afar because distanced voices, no matter how great, will not move Ortega. Though we may not share the same nationality or ethnicity, we share this world and should put aside our passive observing to fight together for the justice we strive to uphold.

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and/or student and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of United 4 Social Change Inc., its board members, or officers.
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