How Nicaragua's Protests Could Spread Elsewhere in Central America

May 17, 2018 | 08:00 GMT

In this photograph, demonstrators sing the Nicaraguan national anthem in front of a police station during a protest against President Daniel Ortega's government in Managua on April 25.

Widespread protests in Nicaragua are challenging the foundations of President Daniel Ortega's government. If he falls, the demonstrations could ignite unrest in neighboring Honduras and Guatemala.



  • President Daniel Ortega will have to take some action to address the growing unrest, because he can no longer rely on the army to quell the protests.
  • Ortega could resign ahead of presidential elections scheduled for 2021, or he could seek to remain in power by roping the opposition into a lengthy political dialogue. 
  • If protests successfully oust Ortega, political opponents of the Honduran and Guatemalan governments will likely intensify protests in those two countries.

In 2016, President Daniel Ortega won a crushing re-election in Nicaragua, capturing almost three-quarters of the vote. Just two years on, however, the fate of his government hangs in the balance amid a wave of protests that have resulted in the deaths of 53 people, mostly at the hands of the security services. Ortega's once-solid political support is cracking, because the army has ceased to provide unconditional support to the government and has advocated opening a dialogue with the demonstrators. Ultimately, what happens in Nicaragua may not stay in Nicaragua: If Ortega loses power, other unstable Central American countries -- such as Honduras and Guatemala -- could soon feel the wrath of their own dissidents....

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