Nicaragua: Amid Political Crisis, Foreign Mining Companies Amplify Repression

Nicaragua’s deepening authoritarianism has made international headlines in recent weeks with the arrest of “26 political opponen
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Photo: Oakland Institute

Oakland, California—Nicaragua’s deepening authoritarianism has made international headlines in recent weeks with the arrest of “26 political opponents and pro-democracy actors, including six presidential contenders, student activists, private sector leaders and other political actors” by the government of President Daniel Ortega.

However, the role of North American and European gold mining companies in sustaining and exacerbating Nicaragua’s regime goes unreported.

At the very same time that the widely reported raids on the homes of the country’s political elites took place, Indigenous people and peasants in the North Caribbean Coast Autonomous Region faced violence and forced displacement for the sake of the ever-expanding gold mining sector.

Last month in Rosita — part of Nicaragua’s Mining Triangle region — 15 families were detained and forcibly removed from the land they had been working by the Santa Rita Mining Company and the Nicaraguan National Police. According to a witness the police arrived at the home of one of the people whose land was allegedly expropriated on June 12, 2021. “They beat him, threw him to the ground, put him in the patrol vehicle, and arrested him, taking away his cellphone.”

As exposed by the Oakland Institute’s 2020 report Nicaragua’s Failed Revolution, the corrupt alliance between the Nicaraguan government and mining companies has fueled the incessant violence faced by the Indigenous and Afro-descendant peoples in the country’s autonomous Caribbean Coast region for the sake of the ever-expanding gold mining sector. Despite the recognition of these lands as autonomous territories by the country’s legislation, the Ortega government has heavily promoted gold mining since taking power in 2007. Nicaragua’s investment agency, ProNicaragua, advertises that over 7.1 million hectares of land — 60 percent of the country’s landmass — are available for mining concessions.

Foreign mining corporations operating in Nicaragua must face accountability for their role in the violent dispossession of Indigenous and Afro-descendant peoples. The United States, Canada, and European countries taking action against the government of Nicaragua must hold their own corporations accountable. If these countries are truly concerned with human rights abuses in Nicaragua, they must call out the complicity of these companies in the violence currently afflicting the people of Nicaragua under the Ortega-Murillo regime… Read More

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