Ortega regime leaves thousands of Nicaraguans helpless as consulates close in cities with high migrant populations
“He hereby informs all of his citizens that the Los Angeles City Consulate will cease operations effective today, January 19, 2024.” This announcement, which was placed on a piece of paper on the door of the building where the Nicaraguan Consulate operates in Los Angeles, United States, is part of Implementing the consulate closure program Daniel Ortega system In cities with high concentrations of Nicaraguan immigrants.
So far, at least five consulates were closed last month in the cities of Los Angeles (California), Houston (Texas), and New Orleans (Louisiana), in the United States. Tapachula in Mexico; And the Guatemalan Consulate.
The Consulate in San Francisco (California), without officially closing, has ceased serving the public and refers those who request it to direct their efforts to the Nicaraguan Consulate in Washington.
Nicaraguan consulates in New York, Miami, and Washington currently operate in the United States. “I think the idea is to leave the Washington consulate alone.”He says Arturo MacfieldsWho was the ambassador of the Daniel Ortega regime to the Organization of American States until March 2022, when he resigned in the middle of the organization’s session and denounced the Sandinista dictatorship.
McFields believes that the closure of the chain of consulates carried out by Ortega is due to three reasons: protectionexercising greater control over services provided to Nicaraguans abroad; Political revenge“Because Ortega knows that the vast majority of Nicaraguans abroad oppose him; And economicsto save costs.
“The first scenario is the most obvious, which is political revenge, punishing Nicaraguans who are abroad, a kind of revenge because they left Nicaragua, and many of us who left do not support the regime and they do.” “Explains the former ambassador.
“The other intention is security. By having fewer consulates, there is greater control. The strategy indicates that it will ultimately retain only the consulate in Washington. because? Because there is the ambassador. He adds: “The embassy is absolute control over the family.”
As of last Wednesday, Nicaragua's ambassador was in Washington Francis Campbell Hookerwhose wife, Miriam Hooker, is the consul in the North American capital; and their daughter, Mabel Leilani Campbell HookerHe is the press attaché. another son, Michael Rene Campbell Hookerhas been Nicaragua's ambassador to China since May 2023.
McFields says another purpose for closing consulates is to cut the budget. According to his calculations, a minimum three-person consulate in the United States could cost about $30,000 a month, including salaries, property rent, medical insurance and other expenses: “But most consulates include between ten and eight people, with the exception of one in Washington.” “And since it works in the same embassy, it includes only two officials.”
“With the closure of Nicaraguan consulates by order of the Ortega-Murillo dictatorship, Hundreds of thousands of Nicaraguans are left homeless “Those who have forcibly left the country and need to take steps to organize their lives abroad.”
He added: “Ortega and his wife are committing a very serious violation of international and humanitarian law.”By depriving attention of the efforts that citizens must make in order to develop their natural citizenship abroad. The writing circulating on social networks adds: “We also see political revenge in this matter.”
Harold RochaThe expert in international law says that it is “difficult to predict” the reasons for the closure of Nicaraguan consulates, because so far no official communication has been issued on this subject.
“The pictures on the doors of the consular offices that we saw in the press indicate other consular offices in the receiving country, but they do not explain anything else,” Rocha adds. “The (Vienna) Convention imposes a procedure prior to the temporary or permanent closure of a consular residence, a change of personnel, including their departure, and a change of constituency. “We will have to wait to see an official statement to find out the totality of the circumstances that led to this decision.”
“What can be explained is that the consulates are closed until now, It will directly impact the immigrant community in Nicaragua“Because consulates are very important, especially for those living in precarious conditions or in immigration detention,” he says.
He explains: “The function of the consulate focuses on attention and support to natural and legal persons who hold their nationality. Provides protection and support to its citizens; Issues passports, travel documents and other official documents, whether proof of identity or otherwise, as well as visas to foreign nationals required to enter Nicaragua; They perform documentation functions. “They look after the interests of minors in the territory of their constituency, as well as the inheritance interests of those who die.”
However, keep in mind that Nicaraguans residing in closed consular districts will likely be able to carry out procedures online or by mail, as is the case in times of pandemic.
Nearly one million Nicaraguans live in the United StatesHalf of them arrived in the last four years. The states with the largest Nicaraguan populations, according to the State Census Bureau, are Florida, California, and Texas.
In 1980, Nicaragua was left without consulates in the United States, when then-President Ronald Reagan expelled 21 Nicaraguan diplomatic officials in response to the expulsion of three American officials ordered by the Sandinista government.
Arturo McFields believes that the closure of consulates, more than just savings, is due to the reallocation of the budget in the foreign relations strategy promoted by the Daniel Ortega regime, because At the same time that consulates are closing, embassies are opening in remote countries where there are no Nicaraguan communities.
Rosario Murillo, Nicaragua's vice president and wife of Daniel Ortega, made the announcement on Tuesday Opening of the Nicaraguan Embassy in Zimbabwe. Before that, embassies were opened in Ethiopia, the Sahrawi Arab Republic, Burkina Faso, North Korea, and others.
McFields estimates that “opening an embassy from scratch, as they do, would involve an investment of at least $350,000 a year.”
“This consulate closure goes beyond a US issue. That is, we are talking about including other countries, such as Mexico and Guatemala, but it is also about the desire to cover the costs of opening new embassies. This represents a huge expense, and the regime does not release more budget than it already has.
“The main reason for the existence of consulates is to protect immigrants.”As for the embassy, it is business, political relations, and investments. “The consulate is the humanitarian face of governments abroad,” explains the former ambassador, who believes that the Ortega regime, which benefits greatly from remittances sent by migrants, “should give them the minimum support they need in return.”