“I hereby inform all my fellow citizens that the Consulate General of the City of Los Angeles is ceasing operations today, January 19, 2024.” A notice posted on a piece of paper on the door of the building that housed the Nicaraguan Consulate in Los Angeles, USA. A plan to close the embassy was implemented The reign of Daniel Ortega In cities with high concentrations of Nicaraguan immigrants.
So far, at least five embassies in the US have been closed in the past month, in Los Angeles (California), Houston (Texas) and New Orleans (Louisiana); Tapachula in Mexico; and the Embassy of Guatemala.
The consulate in San Francisco (California) is not officially closed and has ceased serving the public, referring applicants to direct their efforts to the Nicaraguan consulate in Washington.
Nicaraguan embassies in New York, Miami, and Washington are currently operating in the United States. “I think the idea is to leave the embassy in Washington alone.”He says Arturo McFieldsDaniel Ortega was the regime's ambassador to the OAS until March 2022, when he resigned midway through the body's session and denounced the Sandinista dictatorship.
According to McFields, the chain closure of embassies carried out by Ortega is due to three reasons: Securityhave greater control over services provided to Nicaraguans abroad; Political vendetta“Because Ortega knows that the majority of Nicaraguans abroad oppose him; and economicsSave costs.
“The first scenario is very obvious, political revenge, a punishment for Nicaraguans abroad, a kind of revenge because they left Nicaragua and many of us who left did not support the regime,” explains the former ambassador.
“Another objective is security. There is more control by having fewer embassies. The strategy implies that at the end of the day it will only keep the Washington embassy. Because? Because there is a messenger. The embassy is completely under the control of a family,” he added.
Until last Wednesday, he was the Nicaraguan ambassador in Washington Francis Campbell Hookerwhose wife Miriam Hooker, is ambassador in the North American capital; and their daughter, Mabel Leilani Campbell Hooker, is the Press Attaché. Another son, Michael Rene Campbell HookerHe has been Nicaraguan Ambassador to China since May 2023.
Another motive for closing embassies, McFields says, is to cut budgets. According to his calculations, an embassy in the United States with at least three people costs about 30 thousand dollars a month, including salaries, real estate rent, medical insurance and other expenses: “But most embassies have ten to eight people. The one in Washington, operating in the same embassy, has only two officers.
“With the closure of Nicaraguan embassies ordered by the Ortega-Murillo dictatorship, Hundreds of thousands of Nicaraguans are homeless Those who have been forced out of the country must take steps to organize their lives abroad,” lamented the exiled opposition group Partido Humanista Social Cristiano de Nicaragua in a statement.
“Ortega and his wife are grossly violating international law and humanitarian law.”, by refusing to pay attention to the efforts that comrades should make for the betterment of their ordinary citizens abroad. We also see political vendetta in this,” added the letter circulating on social media.
Harold RochaAn expert in international law says it is “difficult to speculate” about the reasons for the closure of the Nicaraguan embassy, as there has been no official information on the matter until now.
“The images on the doors of the consulates we saw in the press pointed to other consular offices in the receiving country, but they didn't explain anything else,” Rocha adds. “The (Vienna) convention dictates a procedure before closing the diplomatic headquarters temporarily or permanently, including the transfer of personnel, their departure, and the change of volume. “We will have to wait to see the official report to know the fullness of the circumstances that led to this decision.”
“That explains why embassies have been closed so far. Nicaragua will directly affect the immigrant community“Because embassies are important, especially for people who are at risk or in immigration detention processes,” he says.
And he explains: “The function of an embassy is focused on attention and support to natural and legal persons who hold their nationality. provides security and support to its citizens; Passports, travel documents, other official documents, identification or otherwise, as well as visas for foreign nationals required to enter Nicaragua; They perform notarial functions; “They look after the interests of minors in the territory of their constituency and the interests of the heirs of the deceased.”
Note, however, that Nicaraguans residing in the blocks of closed consulates can carry out procedures online or by mail, as during the pandemic.
Nearly one million Nicaraguans live in the United States, half of whom came in the last four years. According to the State Census Bureau, the states with the largest populations of Nicaraguans are Florida, California and Texas.
In 1980, Nicaragua was without consulates in the United States when President Ronald Reagan expelled 21 Nicaraguan diplomats in exchange for the expulsion of three American officials ordered by the Sandinista government.
Arturo McFields thinks that the closing of the embassies is due to the budget reallocation of the foreign relations strategy promoted by the regime of Daniel Ortega, rather than savings. At the same time that embassies are closed, embassies are opening in distant countries where Nicaraguan communities do not exist.
This Tuesday, Rosario Murillo, Vice President of Nicaragua and wife of Daniel Ortega, announced. Nicaragua Embassy opens in Zimbabwe Earlier, embassies were opened in countries such as Ethiopia, Sahrawi Arab Republic, Burkina Faso and North Korea.
“Opening a new embassy, as they do, requires an investment of at least $350,000 a year,” McFields estimates.
“These embassy closures are beyond America's problem. I mean, we're talking about adding other countries like Mexico and Guatemala, but it's about wanting to cover the costs of opening new embassies. It represents a huge expenditure and the regime is not releasing more budget than what it already has,” he says.
“The fundamental reason embassies exist is the protection of migrants.”, for the embassy it is business, political relations and investments. “The embassy is the human face of governments abroad,” explains the former diplomat, who believes the Ortega regime, which benefits greatly from migrants' remittances, “should give them the minimum support they need in return.”