Since the Ortega-Murillo regime of Nicaragua broke its diplomatic ties with Taiwan, the bond of friendship between Nicaragua and the People’s Republic of China has grown stronger in a number of strategic areas.
One example are the frequent meetings between high authorities of the two countries. On November 16, the head of the National’s People Congress and of Nicaragua’s National Assembly held a virtual meeting, one year after diplomatic relations were reestablished between the two countries, Nicaragua’s state-owned news site El 19 Digital reported.
“The alliance between the two countries fits perfectly based on their interests. The Ortega-Murillo have one more ally to sustain their dictatorship,” Jorge Serrano, a security expert and member of the team of advisors to the Intelligence Commission of the Peruvian Congress, told Diálogo on November 26. “China has in Managua a small country with a geostrategic location close to the United States.”
Nicaragua broke ties with Taiwan, considered a renegade province, on December 10, 2021, after the Organization of American States (OAS) and the bulk of the international community rejected the legitimacy of the elections in which Ortega clung to power for the third consecutive time, German news site DW reported.
More prominent role
On November 12, this new political ally of the Ortega-Murillo regime delivered to the Nicaraguan National Police, accused of committing genocide and serious human rights violations, an unknown amount of equipment and defense materiel, Managua’s daily La Prensa reported.
“This donation shows how China is beginning to take Russia’s place in strengthening the Ortega-Murillo dictatorship,” Serrano said. “Moscow cannot provide those resources, because it doesn’t have them.”
In April 2018, the Nicaraguan Police was accused of killing more than 300 civilians protesting against Ortega. In 2018 and again in 2020, the U.S. government sanctioned the Nicaraguan Police, as well as its Director General Francisco Díaz, according to statements from the U.S. Treasury Department.
“The Kremlin is in serious trouble because of the conflict it created in Ukraine, so it ceded to China its hegemonic role in Nicaragua, who will also supply armaments for the Nicaraguan security forces,” Serrano said. “Beijing […] is going to completely engulf Nicaragua.”
The regime’s violence is not only perpetrated at the hand of the police, but also by paramilitary entities acting with the complicity of the regime, the Nicaraguan Center for Human Rights indicated in a report. Since China and Nicaragua resumed diplomatic relations, both countries have signed several cooperation agreements to establish mechanisms for political consultations, and agreements for support and commercial participation, among others, Spanish news agency EFE reported.
“China is mercilessly advancing in the Caribbean region,” Serrano said. “Nicaragua is a destabilizing factor in the region and China’s presence, by the law of political gravity, is going to attract another country to its axis as a satellite. Beijing is very adept at that. We are no longer talking about just one country.”
In this new role China “could facilitate, support, promote, and incite the dictatorship in Nicaragua, in exchange for protection and the resources it will provide, to facilitate the transit of drugs and chemical precursors for fentanyl, so that the Mexican cartels can produce it,” Serrano added.
China’s influence in Latin America has many associated risks, from facilitating corruption to increasing threats to countries’ security and its environmental abuses.
More international pressure
In April, the OAS called on the Ortega-Murillo regime to dismantle its oppressive system and urged the international community to increase political pressure on the regime to return Nicaragua to the path of democracy, reported independent Nicaraguan online media Despacho 505.
“International pressure has to come first from our continent through a high-level OAS commission. If the dictatorship refuses, as is very likely, it must be made ineligible for credits from the international financial system,” Serrano concluded. “More political and economic pressure must be exerted now. China is more determined to position itself in Nicaragua.”