The Free Visa Offered by Nicaragua to Cuba and Belarus Opens the Door to ‘Undesirables’

The latest countries to which Ortega has granted a free visa, with marked political interest, have been Cuba, Belarus and Kazakhstan. (EFE)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Havana, 31 August 2023 — Nicaragua and Belarus agreed to establish the free visa reciprocity, a gesture that consolidates the alliance that both regimes have been strengthening for months. The agreement, signed this July and announced on August 22 by the Nicaraguan press, has aroused criticism from citizens and opponents of the Government of Daniel Ortega, who fear the entry into the country of “undesirable” visitors.

An expert in international relations, quoted anonymously by the newspaper La Prensa, described the resolution as “illegal” and pointed out that mismanagement of trafficking between countries with “political instability” could not only “cover up illegal migration to third countries – an experience that Nicaragua had with the stampede of migrants from Cuba – but also “the transit of drug traffickers and terrorists.”

The newspaper recalled that the last countries to which Ortega  granted a free visa have been Cuba and Kazakhstan, societies that live “under authoritarian regimes like Nicaragua,” and that are far from generating beneficial tourism for the Central American nation.

“The free visa aims to facilitate the transit of citizens of a country for tourist, business or family purposes.” However, the sources consulted by La Prensa say that the reasons for the Ortega regime point to the political and economic benefits it can obtain from its allies.

The alliance between Nicaragua and Belarus has been justified before the press with numerous cooperation projects

“From a perspective of rapprochement with the Caribbean,” it would make sense for Nicaragua to soften immigration controls for Cuban travelers, Nicaraguan political scientist Félix Maradiaga explains to the media. However, taking into account the inability of Cubans to “save money and travel abroad,” as well as their low wages, it’s obvious that the rapprochement is thanks to “the ideological affinity with the Cuban regime,” he says.

In the case of Belarus, “a satellite state” that responds to the interests of Russia, the free visa is “even less justifiable,” said Maradiaga, who fears that Nicaragua will become involved in the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

The alliance between Nicaragua and the European country has been justified to the press by the numerous cooperation projects in which Belarus pledged to provide machinery for the agricultural sector and credit for the purchase of urban transport and construction equipment.

Ortega’s opponents, for their part, allege that it is a strategy to ensure the support of the Nicaraguan government for Russia in its campaign, a method that has also been used in Cuba, which receives perks from Vladimir Putin’s regime in exchange for offering him international support.

At the summit between the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States and the European Union, held in Brussels in mid-July, Nicaragua refused to sign a declaration against the war in Ukraine, as did Cuba. Both countries, with the support of Venezuela, prevented the Ukrainian president, Volodymyr Zelensky, from attending the event.

Translated by Regina Anavy


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