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Crisis in Nicaragua

By Atul Tandon

As you may have seen in recent news, Nicaragua is undergoing its biggest uprising since the civil war ended in 1990. Protests began on April 18, following proposed changes to taxes and pensions, and the reaction to these protests escalated rapidly into violence. As a result, the country is experiencing violent attacks, looting, and larceny, particularly at night. Many people are experiencing food shortages, gas and diesel are largely unavailable, and hundreds of road blocks make it difficult to move from one area to another.

Over the course of the last eight weeks, protests and violence have escalated, and now the country is facing a major crisis that continues to change hour by hour. Thankfully, all of our staff and clients are currently safe, but the national death toll continues to rise—as of Friday, 137 people had died, 2,000 have been injured, and many are missing.

For more than 23 years, Opportunity International has worked in Nicaragua, and we are heartbroken to receive reports from our partners and staff who are suffering due to this unrest.

On Friday, we heard from David Kone (Executive Director of the Nicaragua Community Economic Development program) and Juan Ulloa (CEO of ASODENIC, our microfinance partner) who provided us with key updates about our programs. They shared the following information with our team, noting that the situation—and subsequent programmatic responses—changes daily:

  • ASODENIC, our microfinance partner in Nicaragua, cannot lend at the moment. They are still receiving payments on loans, but their staff is only working half days (8 a.m.-12 p.m.) because the violence escalates in the afternoon.
  • In the town of Masaya, ASODENIC, as well as every other commercial bank in the area, has closed operations because of the risk of violence. 
  • The Granada office of NICACED is currently closed because of severe violence in the city that came to a head on Tuesday of last week. The City Hall in Granada was burnt to the ground, and, as DK shared, “The situation is incredibly volatile.” They are continuing to monitor and evaluate the situation to determine when it is safe to reopen.
  • NICACED’s hotel, Pacaya, is currently closed. They are maintaining a minimal staffing level and will reevaluate their options for re-opening in 60 days.
  • NICACED was able to maintain their audit on the yucca processing plant last week, despite everything going on around them. This critical meeting ensured that NICACED can continue pursuing the export of their product—a major win in an otherwise defeating week. Much of the product is already processed, which means that even with longer-than-normal transportation times due to road blocks, it will maintain its usability.
  • The Emprendedora School is trying to maintain operations while developing creative solutions to keep students safe. Currently, they are exploring setting up an online platform using Google Classrooms and micro-hotspots so that students can continue learning from home. Currently, the school is closed, but the team is doing everything they can to ensure children’s educations.
  • The school is selling their eggs and produce in the local community, alleviating food shortages amid road blockages.

Please join our entire team in prayer for our teams, clients, and students in Nicaragua. As the situation continues to unfold, we are committed to doing what we do best—creating opportunities and standing alongside our friends and neighbors around the world as they rebuild their lives and communities.

In addition, we have launched an emergency relief fund to support our clients and staff in Nicaragua as they navigate this crisis. Your financial support will help us maintain our staff through this season of uncertainty and mitigate the financial risks facing our clients. We will continue to work with our Nicaraguan partners to determine the areas of greatest need as the situation develops moving forward. 

In this time of emergency, I encourage you to join us in helping our brothers and sisters in Nicaragua by making a gift to our relief fund today.

We are thankful for your friendship, prayers, encouragement, and partnership as we face these difficult times. As the situation progresses, we will share key updates with you. For now, we have two priorities—to support our staff and clients in Nicaragua with the financial resources they need to weather this current storm, and to pray for peace, stability, and recovery in Nicaragua with the confidence of Psalm 17:6: “I call on you, my God, for you will answer me; turn your ear to me and hear my prayer.” 

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