Open Letter to the BBC: Please Stop Your Disinformation Campaign on Nicaragua

The June 23 BBC article by Bernd Debusmann, “US Immigration: They’d rather die than return to Nicaragua,” confirms that the corporate media consistently make every article on Nicaragua an attack on its Sandinista Government.

Four Nicaraguans who have recently migrated to the US from the department of Esteli, who include two peasants, and two housewives confirm they are Sandinistas and left their country because they heard from others that U.S. immigration (ICE) is actually helping Nicaraguans stay in the US to work.

Once they crossed into the US, they turned themselves in and actually were flown or sent by bus to their final destination—two to Minneapolis, one to Miami and one to Houston. Of the four one has migrated to work seasonally in El Salvador for twenty years and two have gone seasonally to Costa Rica at least twice each.

In the U.S. Nicaraguan migrants are treated now with as much leniency as Cubans. In other words, the U.S. is clearly promoting migration to the US by Nicaraguans. And Nicaragua has been left out of the Title 42 expulsions unlike Mexicans, Guatemalans, Salvadorans and Hondurans which have had much higher migration to the U.S. than Nicaraguans since 2007, when a better government began in Nicaragua – a Sandinista government.

It should also be noted that US Border Patrol encounters are up with people from Mexico, Central America and the Caribbean since Covid, with further increases in 2021 and 2022.

The other reason that migration to the U.S. is up, is that, at least in Nicaragua, people heard from other Nicaraguans who have gone to the US, particularly since mid-2021 that it is fairly easy to get work and that the pay is good—U.S.$12 to US$18 an hour.

The four Nicaraguans mentioned above plan to stay in the US for two to three years, send money home, then return to buy land, or cattle or invest in a small business.

I know of no one going because they dislike the Sandinista government. You have only to visit Nicaragua to experience the amazing investment in everything that makes life better: universal health care and education, housing programs, every aspect of infrastructure to make the country run smoothly, best roads in the region by far, government loans and training for small producers and small enterprisers, 90% food sovereignty, 99.2% of the population now has electricity, more than 90% have running water in their homes, electricity is now primarily generated by renewable sources, great investment in sports, recreation and parks and so much more.

Of course, anyone going to work in the US without papers is smart enough to tell immigration what they want to hear—they have come to escape tyranny. If they said “I love Nicaragua and am just here to work,” they would be deported. Migrants are smart.

Migration has increased substantially around the world because of the economic effects of Covid on economies. And aside from this, the US applied sanctions to Nicaragua in 2018 and more sanctions in 2021. There were no new World Bank loans to Nicaragua from 2018 to November 2020 when finally loans were made related to the effects of two strong hurricanes. The International Development Bank provided US$43 million in Covid-related aid in 2020 but provided US$1.8 billion to El Salvador.

Another factor that is pushing Nicaraguans north is that Costa Rica’s economy was very hard hit by Covid. Historically hundreds of thousands of Nicaraguans have gone to work yearly there. But in 2020 and 2021 more people returned to Nicaragua because of lack of work in Costa Rica. In 2021 total crossings were 228,000 and more were returning to Nicaragua than leaving. This would be another reason to look for work in the U.S..

The BBC author says that people are also coming because of a “crackdown on civil society.” In the last four years some 440 nonprofit organizations have lost their tax-free status out of more than 6,000 non-profits. I’ve examined all the lists and the vast majority are non-profits that have not functioned in years due to lack of donations. And closing NGO’s is not unusual—this happens all over the world. Between 2006 and 2011 the IRS closed 279,000 out of 1.7 million nonprofits. 28,000 were closed in 2020 alone. In Great Britain about 4,000 a year are closed and in Australia 10,000 were closed in 2014, one-sixth of the total.

In 2020 Nicaragua followed the U.S. lead and created a Foreign Agents law that requires non-profits to share information on foreign monies received and how the monies are used. Since 2007 many non-profits acted as channeling vessels for funds from the U.S. National Endowment for Democracy, International Republican Institute, International Democratic Institute, Freedom House and especially the U.S. Agency for International Development; and also for money from foundations that work closely with the U.S. government like Soros, the Foundation to Promote Open Society and others.

This money, to the tune of well over a half billion dollars channeled openly, was used for destabilization purposes and for the U.S. failed coup attempt of 2018. Those NGOs were shut down first with good evidence of fraud, treason and money laundering and other crimes that are crimes anywhere in the world.

The Financial Action task Force (FATF) set up by the G7 imposed rules that apply globally. Nicaragua was praised by the FATC for its compliance with things like stopping money laundering.

Although certainly some of the Nicaraguans migrating to the US don’t like the government, it is not the primary reason they are choosing to try their luck in the United States. On November 7, 2021 more than 65% of registered voters voted for President Daniel Ortega giving him more than 75% of the votes. Current polls show the same citizen approval. Travel to Nicaragua, talk with everyone you meet, do some investigation.

Nan McCurdy is a United Methodist Missionary and 36 year resident of Nicaragua. She is currently working with the rural poor in Puebla Mexico but can be reached at Read other articles by Nan.