For the past decade, the United States has been quietly assisting opposition groups in Nicaragua, helping them organize resistance to the country’s popular leftist president Daniel Ortega.
U.S. officials hope the country’s opposition groups will create a new political movement that can defeat Ortega at the polls or pressure him into stepping down from power. They fear that without their support, Ortega’s opposition will remain weak and divided, making it impossible for anyone to mount a successful political campaign against the Nicaraguan president.
“Our assistance programs are primarily directed at civil society, in order to limit engagement with the central government,” State Department official Juan Gonzalez told Congress in September 2016.
The assistance programs appear to be having some effect, especially now that opposition groups are leading majorprotests against the Nicaraguan government. After the Nicaraguan government passed a number of mild reforms to the country’s social security program in April, Ortega’s opponents organized a series of protests that quickly turned violent.
Observers estimate that as many as 45 people died in the protests.
Since the protests began, U.S. officials have declared their support for the opposition, blaming the Nicaraguan government for the violence. They have not said if any of the protesters have benefited from their assistance.
While questions remain about the extent of U.S….