Some of you may have heard on Facebook or seen in the news that Nicaragua is in the middle of some pretty serious Political unrest. We want to let everyone know that we are all ok and nothing has escalated to a very dangerous level for most people. There are however protests going on in downtown Managua that have turned violent. So, we are avoiding those areas. The U.S. Embassy is keeping its advisories updated on Facebook. If you speak Spanish and want to follow local news here 100% Noticias is a great source and they are using FB live to get the story out. Also, visit La Prensa which is the major Nicaragua print newspaper.
We are staying close to home and keeping our ear on things. Please pray for Nicaragua! Here is our understanding of what is happening.
There has been unrest in recent months due the Sandanista governments lack of response to wild fires in remote regions of the country. There was clamor about the suppression of information as well. Those protestors made their way to Nicaragua to raise awareness at the end of March. It did not escalate at the time though.
This week’s unrest started on Wednesday. It actually has been an issue that has been boiling for a couple years now. The Nicaragua Social Security Institute (INSS) has been accused in La Prensa (as far back as 2009) of loaning out funds to political allies of the government for a wide variety of projects, buildings, housing developments, business building and then other more nefarious accusations. As a result of the abuse of funds INSS is on the brink of financial collapse. Over the last two years the government has raised INSS payroll tax from 16% to the current 19%. That only affected employers.
Then on Wednesday the Sandanista Government announced wide ranging INSS tax hikes that affect everyone. If I understand it correctly it will raise payroll tax to 22.5%, raise tax on employees by .75%, eliminate max salary limits on income tax, and worst of all reduces the pensions of the retired elderly by 5%. People are upset at all levels, mostly because they feel they aren’t getting the benefits of the tax, while at the same time there is corrupt use of the funds.
Protests and marches began on Wednesday. Then, government employees were sent to the street to protest in favor of the hikes. Then the police and riot police tried to bring order. Violence erupted when agitators joined into the protest and escalated things. Yesterday three people died in the violence related to the protests. The President and First Lady have called for calm, but at the same time shut down major news outlets that were covering the story. We are praying for calm but it also seems like a lot of people are fed up with corruption and they want changes. It is not a good situation.
Univision, Washington Post, ABC News, Rueters and others have covered the story and I assume others will. Using a google search for Nicaragua Protests should return current stories. (Update: Saturday News Links… The Gaurdian, BBC)
We are praying for everything to be resolved peacefully. We are asking God to bring justice and truth to the situation and our nation as a whole.
I hope this helped inform things a little bit and thank you for praying with us!
Love, Chris and Krista Farrington