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Demonstrators shout slogans and wave Nicaraguan flags during a protest against the Nicaraguan government in front of the Nicaraguan Embassy in Madrid, Spain, Jan. 12, 2019 (AP photo by Andrea Comas).

Nicaragua’s Crisis Shows No Signs of Abating

Thursday, Jan. 31, 2019

On Monday, the Nicaraguan government announced it was implementing the very reforms that triggered widespread protests last year and led to a brutal government crackdown. A move of economic necessity, it also appeared to be another sign of President Daniel Ortega’s renewed confidence in power, despite international outcries over his government’s repression, which has resulted in 325 confirmed deaths and the arrests of more than 600 dissidents since last spring, among other abuses. Tens of thousands of Nicaraguans have fled into exile.

The unpopular fiscal reforms will address the country’s deficit-wracked pension system, increasing both employer and worker contributions and lowering the maximum amount of pensions. The reforms are similar to what was originally announced last April and then quickly retracted in the face of popular demonstrations. Economists and business groups worry that the reforms will further damage an already deteriorated economy. Nicaragua’s GDP declined 4 percent in 2018, a considerable blow to Latin America’s second-poorest economy. Ortega recently announced that Nicaragua was entering a “gallopinto” economy, a reference to the country’s national dish of rice and beans. ...

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