14ymedio, Madrid, 6 November 2023 — There is no record of the passage of migrants through Nicaragua who continue to the United States, as published on Monday by the newspaper La Prensa, to which a source from the General Directorate of Migration and Aliens (DGME) affirms that passports are not being stamped at the airport so that, “when they arrive in the United States, they cannot see that they passed through Nicaragua.”
In exchange, they are charged a fee of between 150 and 200 dollars that, on an ordinary day, according to the same source, totals about 63,000 dollars. “The amount of money that is entering the regime in cash is astronomical, and it is not for the Treasury of the Republic because it’s not given or received,” he says.
The Nicaraguan opposition media today provides more data on the management of the migratory movement, which Daniel Ortega’s regime has turned into a lucrative economic and political business, since it manages to make the United States uncomfortable by facilitating access to its borders for Latin American citizens and, also, Africans and Eastern European citizens. Washington is concerned, according to the report, about the possible arrival of people linked to terrorism from some of these countries.
They are charged between 150 and 200 dollars that, on an ordinary day, according to the same source, totals about 63,000 dollars
At the same time, it is not clear where the amount that is paid per migrant goes, which, according to La Prensa source, the Customs officials themselves charge at their discretion. “The corruption is unrestrained,” he says. According to his calculations, on commercial flights there are about 600 seats available per day, of which 70% (420 people) are migrants. “Plus charter flights, which we know have been up to 28 some days,” he says.
Migrants arrive mainly through Aruba, Haiti or the Dominican Republic, although there are other more unusual origins that are becoming frequent, such as Bulgaria, from where there were five flights last week suspected of bringing citizens of the former Asian republics of the USSR.
“Seventy or 80 percent of the people on each Avianca commercial flight with the San Salvador-Managua route are occupied by people from Africa,” adds the La Prensa source. Since last October 23, the Government of Nayib Bukele charges a fee of 1,000 dollars to migrants of 57 nationalities – African and Indian – who pass through the airport of the capital.
As a result of that excess demand, Avianca has even had to restrict routes from some parts of Latin America and Africa to Managua, as the company itself revealed on its social networks.
“Flights have filled quickly, leaving passengers from the Nicaraguan diaspora and tourists who make connections from Central America, Spain and South America without seat availability, especially those who use El Salvador airport as a connection point,” said Aviación de Nicaragua. The suspension is temporary and has been carried out in agreement with the International Air Transport Association (IATA).
The tourism sector says that the measure seeks to “protect regulars who travel in the high season at the end of the year; migration does not leave foreign exchange in Nicaragua, like tourism and the nostalgia market do
The tourism sector says that the measure seeks to “protect regulars who travel in the high season at the end of the year; migration does not leave foreign exchange in Nicaragua, like tourism and the nostalgia market do -above all, the intangible element of the family reunion.” Once these dates have passed, Avianca foresees the implementation of a rate similar to the Salvadoran one, which would affect, in the same way, specific countries. “That tax can be generated by profiling each passenger from those countries upon arrival, just as Panama has been doing for a month,” a businessman told the local press, asking for patience and calm.
The direct route to Miami is not among those affected, but the connections in San Salvador or Guatemala City are blocked. Avianca still maintains flights from San José (Costa Rica) and Panamá.
Haiti is also among the countries that have suspended charter flights to Nicaragua due to the huge migratory flow, and it is said in Port-au-Prince that it was at the request of the United States to stop the flow of migrants to its territory. “There are great concerns about security, comfort, logistics. There is a lot of disorder at the moment. The aviation sector and disorder don’t get along well. It can cause numerous accidents. We have to reorganize,” said Laurent Joseph Dumas, director of Civil Aviation, in an interview with the local press in Port-au-Prince.
Between August and October 2023 alone, 31,475 passengers arrived in Managua from Haiti on board 268 flights, said Manuel Orozco, director of the Migration, Remittances and Development program of the Inter-American Dialogue based in Washington, a few days ago. In his opinion, Ortega “is selling Managua airport as a bridge to Haitians en route to the United States.”
Other analysts maintain the same thesis on the use of migration as a weapon against Washington. “Do anything that affects the United States. It is definitely aimed at creating pressure or politicizing it against the United States because it is an extremely controversial and delicate issue for Americans,” argued Juan Sebastián Chamorro.
Eliseo Núñez, political analyst, recalls that the technique has also been used by Belarus on its border with Poland
Eliseo Núñez, political analyst, recalls that the technique has also been used by Belarus on its border with Poland. “While the United States was not messing with him, Ortega provided services to stop migration, drug trafficking and anything having to do with terrorism,” he says. The expert recalls the crisis of 2015, when almost 2,000 Cubans crossing the border were detained on the border with Costa Rica, causing one of the most serious crises of the last decade. The agglomeration reached approximately 8,000 people and required the coordinated response of several Central American countries to circumvent Nicaragua.
Things changed when, in 2017, after protests that began a repression was unleashed against protesters and the opposition, which led the United States to take measures against the regime, Ortega decided to resort to the migratory weapon.
La Prensa quotes a former diplomat who says, under anonymity, that Ortega takes advantage of the migrants’ needs to take money from them. “One hundred fifty dollars per migrant is a lot of money, and that is also charged to those who come from the south, from Costa Rica, and those who enter by land. It’s not just those at the airport,” he says.
Translated by Regina Anavy
COLLABORATE WITH OUR WORK: The 14ymedio team is committed to practicing serious journalism that reflects Cuba’s reality in all its depth. Thank you for joining us on this long journey. We invite you to continue supporting us by becoming a member of 14ymedio now. Together we can continue transforming journalism in Cuba.