UNITED24 - Make a charitable donation in support of Ukraine!


Nicaragua - Foreign Relations

Nicaragua traditionally pursues an independent foreign policy. Since returning to power in 2007, Daniel Ortega has sought to build closer ties with Iran, Russia, and the ALBA states, especially Venezuela. Immediately after his inauguration Ortega formally joined ALBA. In 2008, Ortega made Nicaragua the second country to grant diplomatic recognition to South Ossetia and Abkhazia, the breakaway “independent republics” of Georgia.

Nicaragua had territorial disputes with Honduras, Colombia, and Costa Rica. The dispute with Honduras was resolved by the International Court of Justice (ICJ) at The Hague in October 2007, and President Ortega and Honduran President Jose Manuel Zelaya Rosales met on October 8, 2007 to recognize the finality of the decision. Also in 2007, Nicaragua, Honduras, and El Salvador reached an agreement on fishing rights in the Gulf of Fonseca, though the actual border demarcation remains unresolved, by mutual agreement. In December 2007, the ICJ issued an interim decision on the Colombia-Nicaragua dispute that granted sovereignty of the San Andres archipelago to Colombia, but urged both parties to work toward a mutually satisfactory resolution regarding the surrounding waters.

Costa Rica and Nicaragua have long-disputed issues related to their boundary. An 1858 treaty fixed the boundary on the river’s southern bank, and a subsequent arbitration finding validated that treaty. A 2009 ICJ decision also accepted the river’s southern bank as the boundary. In October 2010, Costa Rica accused Nicaraguan troops of invading Costa Rican territory and protested Nicaragua’s dredging operations in the San Juan River, claiming that the dredging was causing irreparable environmental damage. In a provisional ruling, the ICJ allowed dredging operations to continue but asked that both parties remove security forces from the disputed territory. A final ruling could take several years.

At the 1994 Summit of the Americas, Nicaragua joined six Central American neighbors in signing the Alliance for Sustainable Development, known as the Conjunta Centroamerica-USA, or CONCAUSA, to promote sustainable economic development in the region.

Nicaragua belongs to the United Nations and several specialized and related agencies, including the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund (IMF), World Trade Organization (WTO), UN Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), World Health Organization (WHO), Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), International Labor Organization (ILO), and UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC). Nicaragua also is a member of the Organization of American States (OAS), the Pan-American Health Organization (PAHO), the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), the Central American Armed Forces Conference (CFAC), the Non-aligned Movement (NAM), the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), and the Central American Bank for Economic Integration (CABEI).

Since 2006 Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega and the Sandinista Revolutionary Front progressively increased bilateral relations with Russia in the realms of trade, commerce, agriculture, anti-drug programs, proposed space programs, and infrastructure development. Starting around 2008 Russia also began providing military support to Nicaragua through the provision of funds, equipment and training. In 2011 alone Russia provided Nicaragua with $26.5 million in military aid—almost nine times more than the U.S. military gave.i In response to Russian support, the Nicaraguan Government, with approval from the National Assembly, will allow Russian military formations, ships, and aircraft to remain in the country through June 2015, despite the fact that its constitution prohibits the establishment of foreign military installations on national soil.

With respect to Venezuela, Ortega was a willing follower of Chavez who has replaced Castro as Ortega's mentor. Initially the relationship seemed largely a mutual admiration society with Chavez slow to send assistance; however, the ALBA alliance has finally begun to produce monetary benefit for Ortega and the FSLN. There were first-hand reports that GON officials receive suitcases full of cash from Venezuelan officials during official trips to Caracas.

Ortega and the FSLN had a long-standing, clandestine relationship with Manuel Mirulanda and the FARC, but which publicly had seemed dormant until Ortega initiated saber-rattling against Colombia over the San Andres archipelago during an ALBA meeting in Caracas. Tensions reached a peak in March 2008 when Ortega, at the behest of Chavez, broke diplomatic relations with Colombia, following its strike into Ecuador against FARC leader Raul Reyes, only to restore them a day later after a tempestuous Rio Group meeting.

Regarding Iran, Ortega had earnestly hoped to improve relations with Iran, which he viewed as Nicaragua's revolutionary soul mate, both having toppled authoritarian regimes in the same year, 1979. But Ortega's early flurry of activity that re-established formal relations and saw reciprocal state visits appeared to be a case of unrequited love. Iran has sent multiple "private investment delegations", but by 2008, Tehran had signed no investment deals nor responded to Ortega's request to forgive Nicaraguan sovereign debt held by Iran. In fact, Taiwan had been more forthcoming with direct assistance than Iran.

Nicaragua said 06 September 2016 it had given political asylum to former El Salvador President Mauricio Funes, who has come under scrutiny back home for a truce with gangs during his administration and is also facing multiple legal cases. The Nicaraguan government announced that Funes, his partner and three children had all been granted asylum. It said their lives and physical integrity are in danger as a result of "fighting in favor of democracy, peace, justice and human rights."

Nicaragua, as a member of the Group of 77+China countries within the United Nations system, calls into question Western policies across all those major global issues. Nicaragua also defends Palestine and the Saharawi Republic, recognized Abkhazia and South Ossetia after the Georgia-Russia war, condemned NATO’s aggression against Libya, expresses solidarity with Syria’s government and has very close relations with the Russian Federation and with Iran.

Join the GlobalSecurity.org mailing list

Page last modified: 09-12-2021 19:11:46 ZULU