The Devil on the Loose in Nicaragua

By Expediente Abierto

Since the outbreak of the Nicaraguan socio-political crisis in 2018, the exercise of religious freedom in Nicaragua has been threatened by the growing authoritarianism of Daniel Ortega and his party, the Sandinista National Liberation Front (FSLN). The Catholic Church, in particular, has suffered systematic attacks, the most recent being the banishment of 19 clergymen in January 2024, including two bishops, to the Vatican.

This report exposes, in detail, the violations of religious freedom in Nicaragua, thus showing the general failure of the government of Daniel Ortega to comply with the commitments acquired in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, the American Convention on Human Rights, the Declaration on the Elimination of All Forms of Intolerance and Discrimination Based on Religion or Belief, and other international conventions on religious matters.

From April 2018 to mid-December 2023, there have been 740 attacks on churches in Nicaragua, mostly against Catholic churches. In addition, at least 416 faith-based civil society organizations were canceled. In general, it is observed that the Catholic Church, along with other Christian denominations, has suffered physical violence and institutional weakening since 2018 due to the cancellation of their ecclesiastical structures. The relationship between the government and religious groups is mediated by the utility that these groups represent for the governing party and its authoritarian political interests.


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