Nicaragua

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Overview

Nicaragua is the largest country in Central America. It is also arguably the largest receiver of American interference in a region that has historically endured repeated disruption by those in Washington, DC. Like its neighbors, Nicaragua has a long, ugly history with the United States, going back to the middle 19th century, when the California Gold Rush first drew US interest in building a canal across Central America to shorten ocean voyages from one American coast to another. US involvement expanded in the early 20th century to include invasions by US Marines and American support for the Somoza family of dictators. The Somozas’ grip on Nicaragua came to an end in 1979 when the leftist Sandinistas overthrew the regime and set about on a series of reforms and political alliances with communist countries that alarmed the Reagan administration. Unwilling to accept a Soviet- and Cuban-backed government in Central America, the US trained and supported a right-wing guerilla movement known as the Contras that attempted to destabilize the Sandinista government.

 
In Washington, DC, officials on Capitol Hill questioned the administration’s characterization of the Contras as “freedom fighters” akin to America’s revolutionary Minutemen. Congress moved to cut funding for the Contras, setting off a series of reckless moves by Reagan subordinates that came to be known as the Iran-Contra scandal. Meanwhile, the Contras failed to overthrow the Sandinistas, instead settling for a peace agreement in 1990 that ended the civil war. The Sandinistas lost power in democratic elections, and their leader of the 1980s, Daniel Ortega, tried repeatedly to return to power through a series of unsuccessful presidential campaigns. But finally in 2006, Ortega was elected president once more, although now as a more conservative—but no less antagonistic—figure towards the US. Relations with the United States improved from the 1990s until 2007, when decisions by Ortega once again created strains with Washington, DC, over Nicaraguan relations with US enemies.
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Basic Information

Lay of the Land: Largest of the Central American countries, Nicaragua has three distinct geological areas – the Pacific coastal hills and lowlands, the central highlands rising to as much as 7,000 feet, and the wide Caribbean lowlands, swampy and mosquito-infested. Most of the people live and work on the Pacific coast or in the highlands. The Caribbean lowlands, hot and rainy, are nearly uninhabited, though they comprise nearly half the nation's territory.

 
Population: 5.8 million
 
Religions: Catholic 58.5%, evangelical Protestant (Assembly of God, Pentecostal...) 21.6%, Spiritist 1.5%, Ethnoreligious 0.5%, Muslim 0.1%, non-religious 15.7%.
 
Ethnic Groups: mestizo 695, white 17%, black 9%, Amerindian 5%.
 
Languages: Spanish (official) 80.6%, Mískito 2.9%,Nicaraguan Creole English 0.6%, Sumo-Mayangna 0.1%, Garifuna 0.01%, Rama 0.0001%.
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History

Nicaragua got its name from Nicarao, the leader of an indigenous community inhabiting the shores of Lake Nicaragua when the Spanish arrived in 1522 and conquered the area. Nicaragua was lumped together with Guatemala as part of Span’s regional governance. After declaring independence from Spain in 1821, Nicaragua was briefly part of the Mexican Empire of Agustín de Iturbide and then a member of the Central American Federation.

 
The United States first became interested in Nicaragua shortly after the discovery of gold in California in the 1850s, which prompted American ideas of building a transisthmian canal. In 1851, Cornelius Vanderbilt opened a route through Nicaragua for the gold seekers. The Clayton-Bulwer Treaty (1850) settled some of the issues between Great Britain and the United States concerning the proposed canal.
 
Dictator José Santos Zelaya came to power in 1894. He extended Nicaraguan authority over the Mosquito Coast, promoted economic development, and interfered in the affairs of neighboring countries. His financial dealings with Britain aroused the apprehension of the United States and helped bring about his downfall in 1909.
 
In 1912, US Marines were sent into Nicaragua to support the provisional president, Adolfo Díaz, in a civil war. The Bryan-Chamorro Treaty, giving the United States exclusive rights for a Nicaraguan canal and other privileges, was ratified in 1916. Liberals in Nicaragua opposed the US intervention, prompting guerrilla warfare against the US-supported regime for years. American occupation ended in 1925 but resumed the next year, when Emiliano Chamorro attempted to seize power. Augusto César Sandino was a leader of the anti-occupation forces. American diplomat Henry L. Stimson succeeded in getting most factions to agree in 1927 to binding elections, although Sandino continued to fight.
 
American Marines were withdrawn in 1933. Three years later Anastasio Somoza emerged as the strong man in Nicaragua. He officially became president in 1937 and ruled for 20 years. In the 1947 elections a new president was chosen, but he was ousted by Somoza after less than a month in office. Nicaragua virtually became Somoza’s private estate; the regime aroused much criticism among liberal groups in Latin America. Under Somoza relations with other Central American republics were poor. Somoza was assassinated in 1956, and his son Luis Somoza Debayle became president. Another son, Anastasio Somoza Debayle, headed the armed forces. The Somoza family engineered the election of René Schick Gutiérrez as president in 1963. After his death in 1966, Lorenzo Guerrero, the vice president, succeeded. Anastasio Somoza Debayle was elected president in 1967.
 
Although Somoza resigned from office in May 1972, he retained control of the country as head of the armed forces. After an earthquake in December 1972 devastated Managua, he became director of the emergency relief operations and diverted international aid to himself and his associates, an abuse that solidified opposition to the Somoza regime.
 
Somoza returned to the presidency in 1974 as objections to his regime increased. The opposition was grouped under two large factions, the Sandinista National Liberation Front (FSLN) and the Democratic Liberation Union (UDEL). Violent clashes between the Somoza government and the opposition mounted throughout the 1970s until the FSLN and UDEL toppled the Somoza government in 1979. The left-wing FSLN (or Sandinistas) took control of the government, instituting widespread social, political, and economic changes. Many economic institutions and resources were nationalized, land was redistributed, and social services such as health care and education were improved.
 
The United States was opposed to the Sandinista government and suspicious of its relations with the Soviet Union and Cuba. In 1981 the US cut off economic aid and began supporting counterrevolutionary military forces, or contras. After the US Congress acted to cut off aid to the contras, elements within the Reagan administration continued to covertly support the guerillas. In 1984 the United States illegally mined Nicaragua’s principal harbors, and in 1985 it instituted a trade embargo.
 
In 1984, the Sandinista regime held elections, and Daniel Ortega Saavedra was chosen president. The Sandinista government was popular especially with the peasants and the urban poor. Although it received substantial Soviet aid, it was increasingly unable to maintain the economy, and it curtailed civil liberties to silence dissent.
 
In the February 1990, elections were held under a Central American peace initiative. The FSLN was defeated by an opposition coalition, and Violeta Barrios de Chamorro, a political moderate, became president. Pleased by the downfall of the Sandinistas, the United States lifted its trade embargo, and the contras ceased fighting. Chamorro sought, with mixed success, to revive the economy and generate a conciliatory political environment. Tense relations between the Sandinistas and their opponents at times threatened to undermine her government.
 
Ortega ran for president again in 1996, but was defeated by José Arnoldo Alemán Lacayo, leader of the Liberal Alliance, a conservative coalition. The country was devastated by Hurricane Mitch in November 1998, which killed 4,000 people, including over 1,500 buried in a mudslide when the Casita volcano collapsed. Much of the country’s agricultural land and infrastructure were destroyed as well.
 
Liberals retained the presidency in the 2001 elections as Enrique Bolaños Geyer defeated Daniel Ortega. Bolaños launched an anticorruption campaign that led to the conviction of Alemán for embezzlement and other crimes in 2003. The move against Alemán, who was jailed but later released to detention at his farm, led to a power struggle in 2004 between Liberal party members in the national assembly, who formed an alliance with the Sandinistas, and President Bolaños. Legislators attempted to pass constitutional amendments curtailing the president’s powers and attempted to force him from office. An accord ending the dispute was negotiated in January 2005, but legislators subsequently passed the amendments, which the administration has ignored despite rulings from the Nicaraguan supreme court (largely appointed by the Sandinistas). The power struggle effectively paralyzed the government.
 
In July 2005, Bolaños’ opponents initiated impeachment proceedings, but in October Bolaños and Ortega reached an agreement that would delay the constitutional changes until 2007, after Bolaños had left office, and the legislature subsequently approved the move. In the November 2006, Ortega was elected president once again, after moving from the political left to a more centrist ideology, including opposition to abortion (which he favored while leading the country in the 1980s). The campaign was a three-way race in which the center-right vote was split between two candidates.
 
In March 2007, in a move that was seen by many observers as part of a deal between Ortega and former president Alemán, Alemán was freed from his house arrest.
 
Library of Congress Country Study (Library of Congress)
Political History of Nicaragua (Stanford University)
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History of U.S. Relations with Nicaragua

United States interest in Nicaragua began during the Gold Rush of the 1850s, when Americans sought a shortcut through Central America to avoid long voyages around South America. At first Nicaragua welcomed a US presence, thinking it would counterbalance the British presence in the area. In 1849, US diplomat and businessman Cornelius Vanderbilt signed a treaty with the Nicaraguan government which gave exclusive rights to the Accessory Transit Company (which Vanderbilt owned) to build a transisthmian canal across Nicaragua. The agreement also gave Vanderbilt and his company exclusive rights to land and water transit across Nicaragua while the canal was being built. In exchange, the US promised to protect Nicaragua from other foreign intervention. 

 
The agreement upset Britain, which attempted to block the operations of the Accessory Transit Company by force in 1850. The skirmish ended in the Clayton-Bulwer Treaty, negotiated and signed by the US and Britain. Under the treaty terms, both nations agreed that neither would claim exclusive power over the planned canal or any other part of the region. The Nicaraguan government wasn’t included in the negotiations. The canal remained under joint US and British control, with Britain controlling the port of San Juan del Norte and the US claiming ownership of the vessels, hotels, restaurants, and land transportation along the transit route.
 
During the 1840s and 50s, liberal and conservative factions were in constant struggle for control of Nicaragua. The Liberals found their upper-hand in William Walker, an adventurer from the United States who became entangled in Nicaragua’s civil war. The liberal faction hired Walker in 1855 as a mercenary, with the intent of establishing liberal domination over the conservative faction. Walker ultimately was the one who usurped power from both parties by installing himself as president of Nicaragua by means of a farcical election staged in 1856. He then set his sights on commandeering power throughout the rest of Central America, including taking control of Cornelius Vanderbilt’s canal.
 
Walker’s scheme angered Vanderbilt, the British, and the conservative governments of Central America, who pooled resources and influence to neutralize Walker and his forces. After much maneuvering and scuffle, and at the cost of thousands of Central American lives, Walker was forced to surrender in 1857. He spent a brief time in exile in the US before attempting on four occasions to sneak back into Central America. On the fourth try, Walker’s fate caught up with him in Honduras, where he was captured and executed in 1860. But the debacle with Walker, his murky alliances and animosities between the US government and various American corporations, fostered a deep mistrust toward the US in the Nicaraguan consciousness.
 
Paradoxically, Walker became the catalyst through which the warring liberal and conservative parties of Nicaragua came to compromise. The much coveted canal project was shelved when a railroad was built across Panama. The Nicaraguan canal was all but abandoned with the opening of the Panama Canal in 1914. 
 
But prior to 1914, the US still saw a Nicaraguan canal as viable and vied for control of the passageway. In 1909, the US provided support to the conservative faction rebelling against the liberal administration of President Jose Santos Zelaya. In addition to controlling access to the canal, Zelaya also angered the US by regulating foreign access to Nicaraguan natural resources. The US intervention of 1909 resulted in US warships being dispatched to Nicaragua and the resignation of Zelaya. US Marines occupied Nicaragua almost continuously from 1912-1933. The conservative party ruled Nicaragua from 1910-1926, and in 1914, the conservatives signed the Bryan-Chamorro Treaty with the US, giving the United States complete control of the proposed canal. 
 
From 1926-1933, Marines came and went from Nicaragua, supporting the conservatives in their battle with the liberals. The Marines were forced from the country in 1933 by the continuous revolt of Liberal General Augusto Cesar Sandino. Before the Marines left, they created the Guardia Nacional (National Guard), which combined military and police forces trained and equipped by the US, and designed to be loyal to American interests. The US placed Anastasio Somoza Garcia, who was a close friend of the American government, in charge of the Guardia Nacional. Nicaragua was then to be jointly ruled bySandino, Somoza Garcia and the figurehead President Juan Bautista Sacasa. But Somoza Garcia assassinated Sandino in 1934, and in 1937, he used the Guardia Nacional to depose Sacasa and take absolute power in a rigged election.
 
Somoza Garcia’s rule of Nicaragua was totalitarian and dictatorial, but he retained power by controlling the Guardia Nacional, owning much of the Nicaraguan economy, and via support from the US. His consolidated power extended to the legislature and judicial system, which were controlled by the Somoza family. The Guardia Nacional took control of the national radio and telegraph networks, the postal and immigration services, health services, the internal revenue service, and the national railroads.
           
Nicaragua was the first country to ratify the UN Charter and declared war on Germany during WWII. Although Somoza Garcia sent no Nicaraguan troops to Germany, he took the war as opportunity to confiscate wealthy properties held by German-Nicaraguans, which he in turn personally “purchased” from the government at laughably low prices. During WWII, Nicaraguan imports shot up as timber, gold and cotton were exported to the US, which compounded Nicaragua’s economic and political dependence on the US. But by the end of WWII, Somoza Garcia’s personal wealth was substantial, estimated at $60 million and resting on his ownership of the national Nicaraguan Airlines, the merchant marine lines, textile companies, sugar mills, rum distilleries, and the country’s only pasteurized milk facility.
 
The shenanigans of Garcia Somoza eventually resulted in his assassination in 1956, which was carried out by liberal Nicaraguan poet, Rigoberto Lopez Perez.
 
During the 1960s and 1970s, the Nicaraguan economy boomed. Industrialization was spurred by foreign investment, much of which came from US companies, including Citigroup, Sears, Westinghouse, and Coca Cola. Nicaragua became one of the most developed nations in Central America, until the capital city, Managua, was hit by a major earthquake in 1972 which destroyed 90% of the city. Foreign relief aid came pouring into Nicaragua, but was largely confiscated by President Anastasio Somoza, the son of Somoza Garcia. It is estimated that by 1974, Anastasio Somoza’s personal wealth rang in at $400million.
 
In 1961, young students angered at government corruption formed the Sandinista National Liberation Front. The movement was essentially miniscule, but threatened the Somoza government nonetheless. Between 1961 and 1979, the Somoza government imprisoned and murdered perceived Sandinista loyalists and other dissidents. The movement was all but incubated until the blatant corruption and mishandling of relief funds that followed the 1972 earthquake. The fallen city of Managua left many youths homeless and unemployed, and this sense of “nothing to lose” brought new recruits to the Sandinistas in droves. With the capital city of Managua and the national economy in shambles, middle and upper class Nicaraguans also turned to the Sandinistas, as they watched the Somoza family accumulate wealth while Nicaragua remained in pieces. The Sandinistas took control of the government in 1979, but they inherited a debt of $1.6 billion and 600,000 homeless.
          
While Jimmy Carter was in the White House during the late 1970s, his administration went to great lengths to work with the Sandinista government. This changed when President Ronald Reagan came into office in 1981. Unsettled by Nicaragua’s relationship with Cuba and the Soviet Union, who were then embroiled in Cold War rivalry with the US, the Reagan administration claimed that Nicaragua was partnered with Cuba and the Soviet Union in supplying arms to the guerrillas in El Salvador. As a result, the US cut all aid to Nicaragua, and in 1982, the Reagan administration offered support to groups trying to overthrow the Sandinista government. These groups coalesced into the Contras (short for contrarevolutionaries). Members initially came from ostracized elements of the old Guardia Nacional who were exiled in Honduras. This made the Contras highly unpopular with the Nicaraguan populace, although the Contras would later be joined by peasants from the north and the ethnic groups from the Caribbean coast who were seeking autonomy.
 
In 1985, the US ordered a total embargo on trade with Nicaragua, claiming the Sandinista government threatened US security in the region through its alliance with Cuba and the Soviet Union. Although Congress rejected continued financial support of the Contras in 1983, by 1986 the Reagan administration and Congress resumed Contra funding, forcing the Sandinistas to divert more and more resources from economic development to defense against the Contras. 
 
Support for the Contras was controversial, and debate raged within the United States until 1986 when the Iran-Contra scandal was uncovered. The Iran-Contra Affair was first disclosed by a Lebanese newspaper that reported the US had sold arms to Iran in exchange for hostages held by Hezbollah. Iran was at that time in the middle of the Iran-Iraq War and needed weapons from Western countries, which were unsupportive of the Iranian regime and largely unwilling to sell armaments to the Iranian military. Although the US officially backed the Iraqis, and was supplying Iraq with weapons, the Reagan Administration claimed that by selling Iran weapons, they sought to improve relations with Iran and in the process, influence Hezbollah to release Western hostages in their captivity. Ultimately, only three of the 30 hostages were released, but monies from the arms sale were diverted to the Contras during the time when Congress had ceased funding. 
 
The plan to fund the Contras with monies from the Iranian arms deal was architected by Lieutenant Colonel Oliver North, who served as aide on the National Security Council. The scandal was compounded when he and his secretary Fawn Hall shredded documents pertinent to the investigation into the affair. North also was implicated, along with then-governor Bill Clinton, of cocaine-dealing activities which also illegally funded the Contras. Those involved in the Iran-Contra included former President George H. W. Bush, Edwin Meese of the Iraq Study Group, John Poindexter of the Pentagon’s now defunct Total Information Awareness program, Otto Reich, President George W. Bush’s one-time Assistant Secretary of State for Latin America, Elliot Abrams, deputy assistant to President George W. Bush and Deputy National Security Advisor for Global Democracy Strategy, David Addington, Vice President Dick Cheney's Chief of Staff, Robert Gates, Secretary of Defense under George W. Bush, John Negroponte, ambassador to Iraq in 2004 and Director of National Intelligence in 2005, John Bolton, UN ambassador under George W. Bush, and Vice President Dick Cheney.
 
During the 2006 presidential election in Nicaragua, US Ambassador Paul A. Trivelli attempted to block Ortega’s election by funneling money to opposing parties. The move was denounced by influential groups such as the Organization of American States and the Council on Hemispheric Affairs.
 
Nicaragua: The Making of U.S. Policy (National Security Archives, George Washington University)
U.S. Terrorism in the Americas (Terror File Online)
National Security Archives: Iran-Contra (National Security Archive, George Washington University)
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Current U.S. Relations with Nicaragua

Noted Nicaraguan-Americans

 
Politician
Hilda Solis – Current United States Secretary of Labor. She served in the House of Representatives from 2001 to 2009 as the representative from Los Angeles-area congressional districts. She was confirmed as Secretary of Labor in February 2009 and is the first Hispanic woman to serve in the United States Cabinet.
 
Entertainment
Maurice Benard – Born in San Francisco to Nicaraguan and Salvadoran parents, he has appeared on All My Children (1987-1990) and General Hospital (1993-present). He has been nominated for five Daytime Emmy Awards and won in 2003.
 
Tony Meléndez – Born without arms, he has overcome his handicap and became a player, composer, singer, and songwriter. Despite his disability he learned to play the guitar with his feet. One of his most notable performances was for Pope John Paul II in 1987. 
 
DJ Craze – Born Aristh Delgado in Nicaragua, he came to the United States at the age of three. He is the only DJ to win the World DMC trophy 3 consecutive years.
 
Gabriel Traversari – He was born in Los Angeles but grew up in El Crucero, Nicaragua. He was the host of Univision’s first major original production, TV Mujer from 1988 to 1991. He has hosted episodes for “Behind the Scenes” an E! Entertainment series for Latin America.
 
Athletes
Bill Guerin - Hockey player currently playing right wing for the Pittsburgh Penguins. In 1989 he was the 5th overall pick in the NHL draft. His mother was born in Nicaragua.
 
Diana López – Represented the United States in Taekwondo at the 2008 Olypmics in Beijing. She and her brothers, Steven and Mark, are the first three siblings in any sport to win World Championship Titles at the same event during the World Taekwondo Championships in 2005.
 
Mark López – Silver-medalist at the 2008 Olympics in the Taekwondo -68kg division. He has also medaled at four World Championships.
 
Steven López – He is the oldest of the López siblings. He won gold medals in Taekwondo at the 2000 and 2004 Olympic Games and earned a bronze medal at the Beijing Olympics in 2008. He has five gold medals in World Championship competitions.
 
Other
Christianne Meneses Jacobs – writer, editor, teacher, and publisher of Iguana, the United States’ only Spanish-language magazine for children.
 
Hope Portocarrero Debayle de Somoza de Baldocchi – Born in Florida, she eventually married Anastasio Somoza Debayle and became Nicaragua’s First Lady. She was an icon of fashion, elegance, and high society. Her biggest legacies are the National Theater of Nicaragua, the Children’s Hospital, a clinic for Nicaraguan women, and a center for orphans. She and Somoza eventually were estranged and she remarried Archi Baldocchi in London.
 
Patrick Argüello – Nicaraguan-American doctor who, in 1970, was shot while attempting to hijack El Al Flight 219 as part of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine. As a Nicaraguan émigré in exile in Switzerland, he eventually came into contact with the Marxist Fourth International in Western Europe which agreed to offer military training to the Sandinista’s fledgling movement. Argüello, along with a small group of Nicaraguan Sandinista émigrés, made contact with the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) which agreed to give guerilla training on the condition of Nicaraguan participation in simultaneous hijackings of four European airliners to draw attention to the Palestinian issue.
 
Relations between the US and Nicaragua continued to sour following a number of moves by Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega that upset officials in Washington. While the international community condemned Russia for sending troops to support the two rebel enclaves South Ossetia and Abkhazia, Nicaragua quickly became the first country other than Russia to recognize the two provinces’ as independent nations. In response to Ortega’s action, US Secretary of Commerce Carlos Gutierrez canceled a planned trip to Nicaragua.

Ortega canceled his own visit with President Bush scheduled for September 2008 in New York. Ortega had been invited to discuss regional trade issues with Bush and other Central American leaders, but turned down the invitation in solidarity with his Bolivian counterpart Evo Morales, who recently expelled the US ambassador in La Paz, Philip Goldberg, for allegedly supporting anti-government protests.
 
The US has been trying to convince the Nicaraguan government to destroy more than 1,000 Soviet-era anti-aircraft missiles, one of the largest missile caches in the Western Hemisphere (outside the US). Ortega offered in 2006 to destroy more than 600 of the Sam-7 shoulder-fired rockets in exchange for US medical supplies, but then changed his mind. The government would prefer to hold onto them in case of a conflict with neighboring Colombia over an ongoing border dispute.

Further adding strain to relations is Nicaragua’s growing ties with American archenemy Iran, which has promised to help build a deep-water Caribbean port and several hydroelectric dams for the Central American country. Ortega also plans to deepen ties with Russia. Russian Deputy Prime Minister Igor Sechin visited Managua in September to strengthen trade and political ties and support energy projects in Nicaragua, where blackouts are common.
 
Since 1990, the United States has provided over $2 billion in assistance to Nicaragua. About $489 million of that was for debt relief, and another $488 million was for balance-of-payments support. The US also provided $94 million in 1999, 2000, and 2001 as part of its overall response to Hurricane Mitch. In response to Hurricane Felix, the United States provided over $15 million in direct aid to Nicaragua to support humanitarian relief and recovery operations from the damage inflicted in September 2007.
 
Assistance has been focused on promoting more citizen political participation, compromise, and government transparency; stimulating sustainable growth and income; and fostering better-educated and healthier families. The Millennium Challenge Corporation’s five-year, $175 million compact with Nicaragua entered into force on May 26, 2006. The Millennium Challenge Compact seeks to reduce poverty and spur economic growth by funding projects in the regions of León and Chinandega aimed at reducing transportation costs and improving access to markets for rural communities; increasing wages and profits from farming and related enterprises in the region; and attracting investment by strengthening property rights.
 
As of the 2000 US Census, 177,684 people identified themselves as being of Nicaraguan ancestry. Migration peaked during the 1980s, as a result of the Contra-Sandinista conflict. Between 1982 and 1992, approximately 10% of Nicaraguans fled their country, mostly to Costa Rica but also north into Guatemala, Mexico, and demographers estimate that there are twice as many illegal Nicaraguan immigrants as legal ones. When the Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986 offered amnesty to illegal immigrants able to prove that they had entered the US before 1986, 15,000 Nicaraguans applied for amnesty. This number was more than double the amount of Nicaraguans who migrated legally between 1979 and 1982. Other sources suggest that there were 175,000 undocumented Nicaraguans living in Miami in the late 1980s, even though the 1990 census had counted a total of 202,658 legal Nicaraguan immigrants in the entire US.
 
Miami is the capital of Nicaraguan expats in America. Large communities also exist in Los Angeles, San Francisco, and in parts of Texas.
 
In 2006, 168,939 Americans visited Nicaragua. The trend has been one of strong and consistent growth since 2002, when 97,863 Americans traveled to the Central American country.
 
A total of 39,720 Nicaraguans visited the US in 2006. There has been a slight increase in the number of tourists since 2002, when 36,387 Nicaraguans traveled to the US.
 
U.S.-Nicaraguan Relations Chill as Ortega Faces Domestic Tests (by Blake Schmidt, World Politics Review)
US Nicaraguan relations may be on downward spiral (by Karla Jacobs, Scoop Business)
United States-Nicaraguan Relations (Latin American Studies.org)
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Where Does the Money Flow

On April 1, 2006, the Central American Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA) entered into force for Nicaragua. In 2008, the United States imported $1.7 billion worth of goods from Nicaragua. Leading imports from Nicaragua include apparel and household goods ($1.1 billion); green coffee ($140 million); meat products, poultry, and edible animals ($102 million); fish and shellfish ($80 million); notions, writing, and art supplies ($62 million); and nonmonetary gold ($52 million).

 
American exports to Nicaragua totaled $1 billion in 2008, leaving the US with a trade deficit with the Central American country. The leading export was pharmaceutical preparations, at $143 million. Other top exports were rice ($67 millioncotton fiber cloth ($43 million), ), fuel oil ($42.5 million), wheat ($40.3 million), telecommunications equipment ($35.3 million), computer accessories ($23 million) and industrial machines ($22.7 million).
 
Foreign investment inflows totaled $337 million in 2007, including US firm Cone Denim’s $100 million plant. There are over 100 companies operating in Nicaragua with some relation to a US company, either wholly or partly owned subsidiaries, franchisees, or exclusive distributors of US products. The largest are in energy, financial services, apparel, manufacturing, and fisheries.
 
According to the Congressional Budget for the Fiscal Year 2010 the US gave Nicaragua an estimated $27.1 million in aid in 2009. The largest recipient programs were Development Assistance ($18.1 million), Child Survival and Health through USAID ($6.4 million), Investing in People ($9 million), Governing Justly and Democratically ($8 million), and Economic Growth ($7.2 million).
 
The 2010 budget increased funding over 2009 levels, up to $65.2 million. The largest recipient programs in 2010 will be Development Assistance ($55.5 million), Investment in Agriculture ($24 million), Governing Justly and Democratically ($16.1 million), Investing in Health ($7.1 million), and Global Health and Child Survival through USAID ($5.7 million).
 
The US sold $661,967 of defense articles and services to Nicaragua in 2007.
 
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Controversies

US Suspends Aid Program to Nicaragua

In November 2008 the United States suspended an American-run aid program in Nicaragua in response to concerns over recent elections in the country. The head of the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC), John Danilovich, said the recent election in Nicaragua showed the administration of President Daniel Ortega was no longer committed to holding peaceful and fair elections. The Millennium Challenge Corporation helps developing countries that show a commitment to good governance, economic freedom and the elimination of extreme poverty. Nicaragua has been in political turmoil since early November, when its Supreme Electoral Council said Ortega’s ruling Sandinista Party had won 105 of the 146 mayoral elections. Opponents claimed the elections were rigged.
 
The move by the MCC came following threats in 2006 by Congressman Dan Burton (R-IN), then chair of the Western Hemisphere Subcommittee of the House Committee on International Relations, that the US would cutoff all funding from the corporation if Nicaragua re-elected Ortega as president. During the ’06 contest, the US ambassador to Nicaragua, Paul Trivelli, was accused of funneling money to Ortega’s opponents.
 
Nicaragua Bolsters Ties with Iran
Nicaragua signed lucrative contracts with Iran in 2007 in defiance of warnings from the United States. President Daniel Ortega brushed aside Washington’s concerns by agreeing to trade bananas, coffee and meat in exchange for Iranian help with infrastructure projects. In return for Nicaraguan agricultural goods, Iran will help fund a farm equipment factory, 4,000 tractors, five milk-processing plants, a health clinic, 10,000 houses and a deep-water port. Iran was also expected to choose a site for hydroelectric power station, with another three plants potentially to follow. In addition to moving closer to Iran, Ortega has upgraded ties with Cuba and North Korea, and visited Algeria, Libya and Cuba in a jet lent by Libya’s Muammar Gadafy.

Nicaragua defies US with Iran trade deal (by Rory Carroll, The Guardian)

                                                                   
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Human Rights

In October 2008, Human Rights Watch wrote that the “Nicaraguan government should take steps to ensure that human rights defenders are free to promote and protect women’s rights without harassment or intimidation.” They claim that Nicaragua’s blanket abortion laws are incompatible with international human rights law because they infringe on the protection of rights to life, health, and nondiscrimination. In summary, Human Rights Watch advocates protection from women’s rights defenders who have been subject to intimidation that includes threatening phone calls and acts of anonymous vandalism. Since the enactment of the blanket abortion law, dozens of women with medical conditions that require therapeutic abortion or emergency obstetric care have died or suffered sever disabilities. Amnesty International is in agreement with Human Rights Watch’s stand and has promoted a letter-writing campaign to express concern for women’s rights defenders who have been targeted for their human rights work.

 
According to the U.S. State Department, Nicaragua’s most significant human rights abuses during the past year include “unlawful killings by security forces; harsh and overcrowded prison conditions; police abuse; lengthy pretrial detention; lack of respect for the rule of law and widespread corruption and politicization of the judiciary… and other governmental organs; erosion of freedom of speech and press, including governmental intimidation and harassment of journalists.”
 
The State Department reported four instances of security forces committing unlawful killings. In one case, security forces from the Nicaragua National Police killed a soldier who had been home on leave. In another case, in September 2008 three police officers killed 15-year-old Luis Angel Vargas Salgado after he knocked over a police security cone with his bicycle. This resulted in a riot during which community members burned down the La Paz Centro police station to protest the failure of officials to reprimand the officers who committed the killing.
 
In addition to the killings, the State Department also reports the use of torture and other cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment and punishment. NGOs have received complaints of police use of excessive force or degrading treatment that has caused injuries to criminal suspects. In addition to violence during arrests, prison conditions have continued to deteriorate due to an “antiquated infrastructure and increasing inmate population.” In some instances, jails and holding facilities lacked potable water, had in adequate ventilation, or were infested with vermin. It has fallen upon family members, churches, and other organizations to provide prisoners with food and medical attention.
 
According to the State Department freedom of speech and press, although protected by the Nicaraguan Constitution, have often been infringed upon. The government has used administrative, judicial, and financial means to limit speech and press. Especially during municipal and national elections, the government is quick to accuse media outlets of influencing the outcome of the votes. The government is known to harass and intimidate radio and print media.
 
Lastly, the State Department reports that minority indigenous groups in Nicaragua are subject to government discrimination through the lack of representation in the nation’s legislative branch. Human rights organizations claim that the government has failed to protect minority communities’ civil and political rights to land, natural resources, and local autonomy.
 
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Debate
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Past Ambassadors

George Evans
Note: Not commissioned; nomination withdrawn before the Senate acted upon it.

 
John B. Kerr
Appointment: Mar 12, 1851
Presentation of Credentials: [Feb 18, 1851]
Termination of Mission: Left post Jun 1, 1853
Note: Letters of credence for Kerr were issued both to Nicaragua and to the National Representation of Central America; credentials to the latter were not presented. Officially recognized on Feb 18, 1851.
 
John Slidell
Appointment: Mar 29, 1853
Note: Commissioned during a recess of the Senate. Commissioned to Central America; declined appointment.
 
Solon Borland
Appointment: Apr 18, 1853
Presentation of Credentials: Sep 14, 1853
Termination of Mission: Left Nicaragua, Apr 17, 1854
Note: Commissioned during a recess of the Senate; recommissioned after confirmation on Feb 9, 1854. Commissioned to Central America, but presented credentials only in Nicaragua.
 
John H. Wheeler
Appointment: Aug 2, 1854
Presentation of Credentials: Apr 7, 1855
Termination of Mission: Left Nicaragua soon after Oct 23, 1856
 
Mirabeau B. Lamar
Appointment: Dec 23, 1857
Note: Also accredited to Costa Rica; resident at Managua. Lamar's appointment as Envoy Extraordinary and Minister Plenipotentiary to Nicaragua was revoked.
Mirabeau B. Lamar
Appointment: Jan 20, 1858
Presentation of Credentials: Feb 8, 1858
Termination of Mission: Left post May 20, 1859
Note: Also accredited to Costa Rica, resident at Managua.
 
Alexander Dmitry
Appointment: Aug 15, 1859
Presentation of Credentials: Dec 7, 1859
Termination of Mission: Transmitted recall by note from San Jose, Apr 27, 1861
Note: Commissioned during a recess of the Senate; recommissioned after confirmation on Jan 24, 1860. Also accredited to Costa Rica; resident partly at Managua and partly at San Jose.
 
Andrew B. Dickinson
Appointment: Mar 28, 1861
Presentation of Credentials: Jul 11, 1861
Termination of Mission: Superseded, Jan 15, 1863
 
Thomas H. Clay
Appointment: Oct 21, 1862
Presentation of Credentials: Jan 15, 1863
Termination of Mission: Superseded, May 31, 1863
 
Andrew B. Dickinson
Appointment: Apr 18, 1863
Presentation of Credentials: May 31, 1863
Termination of Mission: Presented recall, Jul 29, 1869
James R. Partridge
Note: Not commissioned; nomination withdrawn before the Senate acted upon it.
 
C.N. Riotte
Appointment: Apr 21, 1869
Presentation of Credentials: Jul 29, 1869
Termination of Mission: Left Nicaragua, Jan 15, 1873
 
George Williamson
Appointment: May 17, 1873
Presentation of Credentials: Nov 1, 1873
Termination of Mission: Notified Government of Nicaragua by note from Amapala, Honduras, Jan 31, 1879, that he had resigned
Note: Commissioned during a recess of the Senate; recommissioned after confirmation on Dec 10, 1873. Commissioned to "the Central American States" but accredited individually to Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, and Nicaragua; resident at Guatemala.
 
Cornelius A. Logan
Appointment: Apr 2, 1879
Presentation of Credentials: [Jul 30, 1879]
Termination of Mission: Transmitted recall by note from Guatemala on or soon after Apr 15, 1882
Note: Officially recognized on Jul 30, 1879. Commissioned to "the Central American States" but accredited individually to Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, and Nicaragua; resident at Guatemala.
 
Henry C. Hall
Appointment: Apr 17, 1882
Presentation of Credentials: [Aug 12, 1882]
Termination of Mission: Presented recall, May 23, 1889
 
Lansing B. Mizner
Appointment: Mar 30, 1889
Presentation of Credentials: Aug 7, 1889
Termination of Mission: Relinquished charge at Guatemala, Dec 31, 1890
Note: Commissioned to "the Central American States" but accredited individually to Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, and Nicaragua; resident at Guatemala.
 
Romualdo Pacheco
Appointment: Dec 11, 1890
Presentation of Credentials: On or shortly before May 21, 1891
Termination of Mission: Presented recall, Oct 13, 1891
Note: Commissioned to "the Central American States" but accredited individually to Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, and Nicaragua; resident at Guatemala.
 
Richard Cutts Shannon
Appointment: Aug 8, 1891
Presentation of Credentials: Oct 13, 1891
Termination of Mission: Left Nicaragua Apr 30, 1893
Note: Commissioned during a recess of the Senate; recommissioned after confirmation on Dec 23, 1891. Also accredited to Costa Rica and El Salvador; resident at Managua.
 
Lewis Baker
Appointment: Apr 4, 1893
Presentation of Credentials: May 13, 1893
Termination of Mission: Presented recall, Dec 9, 1897
Note: Also accredited to Costa Rica and El Salvador; resident at Managua.
 
William L. Merry
Appointment: Jul 17, 1897
Presentation of Credentials: Mar 1, 1899
Termination of Mission: Recommissioned to a different combination of countries
Note: Commissioned as Envoy Extraordinary and Minister Plenipotentiary to Nicaragua, Costa Rica, and El Salvador; resident at San Jose.
William L. Merry
Presentation of Credentials: Dec 12, 1907
Termination of Mission: Superseded, Aug 24, 1908
Note: Commissioned as Envoy Extraordinary and Minister Plenipotentiary to Nicaragua and Costa Rica; resident at San Jose
 
John Gardner Coolidge
Appointment: Jun 5, 1908
Presentation of Credentials: Aug 24, 1908
Termination of Mission: Appointment terminated, Nov 21, 1908
Note: Commissioned during a recess of the Senate.
 
Horace G. Knowles
Appointment: Jan 11, 1909
Note: Took oath of office, but did not proceed to post. John H. Gregory, Jr., was serving as Chargé d'Affaires ad interim on Mar 12, 1909, on which date he notified the Government of Nicaragua of the closing of the American Legation at Managua.
 
Elliott Northcott
State of Residency: West Virginia
Title: Envoy Extraordinary and Minister Plenipotentiary
Appointment: Jan 9, 1911
Presentation of Credentials: Feb 21, 1911
Termination of Mission: Left post Jun 23, 1911
 
George T. Weitzel
Appointment: Dec 21, 1911
Presentation of Credentials: Jan 22, 1912
Termination of Mission: Left post Apr 19, 1913
 
Benjamin L. Jefferson
Appointment: Jun 21, 1913
Presentation of Credentials: Sep 5, 1913
Termination of Mission: Left post Oct 24, 1921
 
John E. Ramer
Appointment: Oct 8, 1921
Presentation of Credentials: Dec 30, 1921
Termination of Mission: Left Nicaragua, Apr 5, 1925
 
Charles C. Eberhardt
Appointment: Mar 12, 1925
Presentation of Credentials: Aug 7, 1925
Termination of Mission: Left post May 10, 1929
 
Matthew E. Hanna
Appointment: Dec 16, 1929
Presentation of Credentials: Apr 11, 1930
Termination of Mission: Left Nicaragua, Sep 6, 1933
 
Arthur Bliss Lane
Appointment: Jul 31, 1933
Presentation of Credentials: Dec 7, 1933
Termination of Mission: Left post Mar 14, 1936
Note: Commissioned during a recess of the Senate; recommissioned after confirmation on Jan 15, 1934.
 
Boaz Long
Appointment: Jan 24, 1936
Presentation of Credentials: Mar 19, 1936
Termination of Mission: Left post Apr 1, 1938
 
Meredith Nicholson
Appointment: Mar 22, 1938
Presentation of Credentials: Jun 9, 1938
Termination of Mission: Left post Feb 27, 1941
 
Pierre de L. Boal
Appointment: Mar 20, 1941
Presentation of Credentials: Jul 24, 1941
Termination of Mission: Left post Mar 5, 1942
 
James B. Stewart
Appointment: Mar 5, 1942
Presentation of Credentials: Jun 12, 1942
Termination of Mission: Left post Jan 4, 1945
 
Fletcher Warren
Appointment: Apr 6, 1945
Presentation of Credentials: May 9, 1945
Termination of Mission: Left post May 4, 1947
 
George P. Shaw
Appointment: May 22, 1948
Presentation of Credentials: Sep 1, 1948
Termination of Mission: Left post Jun 8, 1949
 
Capus M. Waynick
Appointment: May 21, 1949
Presentation of Credentials: Jul 12, 1949
Termination of Mission: Left post Jul 22, 1951
 
Thomas E. Whelan
Appointment: Jul 28, 1951
Presentation of Credentials: Nov 3, 1951
Termination of Mission: Left post Mar 22, 1961
 
Aaron S. Brown
Appointment: Mar 29, 1961
Presentation of Credentials: Apr 21, 1961
Termination of Mission: Left post May 3, 1967
 
Kennedy M. Crockett
Appointment: Jul 27, 1967
Presentation of Credentials: Aug 21, 1967
Termination of Mission: Left post Apr 19, 1970
 
Turner B. Shelton
Appointment: Oct 6, 1970
Presentation of Credentials: Nov 20, 1970
Termination of Mission: Left post Aug 11, 1975
 
James D. Theberge
Appointment: Jul 11, 1975
Presentation of Credentials: Aug 11, 1975
Termination of Mission: Left post Jun 8, 1977
Mauricio Solaun
Appointment: Jul 29, 1977
Presentation of Credentials: Sep 30, 1977
Termination of Mission: Left post Feb 26, 1979
 
Lawrence A. Pezzullo
Appointment: May 17, 1979
Presentation of Credentials: Jul 31, 1979
Termination of Mission: Left post Aug 18, 1981
 
Anthony Cecil Eden Quainton
Appointment: Mar 9, 1982
Presentation of Credentials: Mar 26, 1982
Termination of Mission: Left post May 6, 1984
 
 
Harry E. Bergold, Jr.
Appointment: May 3, 1984
Presentation of Credentials: May 31, 1984
Termination of Mission: Left post Jul 1, 1987
 
Richard Huntington Melton
Appointment: Apr 1, 1988
Presentation of Credentials: May 4, 1988
Termination of Mission: Departure requested by the Government of Nicaragua, Jul 11, 1988
Note: Melton left post Jul 12, 1988, and did not return. John P. Leonard served as Chargé d'Affaires ad interim, Jul 1988–Jun 1990.
 
Harry W. Shlaudeman
Appointment: May 25, 1990
Presentation of Credentials: Jun 21, 1990
Termination of Mission: Left post Mar 14, 1992
Note: Ronald D. Godard served as Chargé d'Affaires ad interim, Mar 1992–Sep 1993.
 
Joseph Gerard Sullivan
Note: Nomination not acted upon by the Senate.
 
John Francis Maisto
Appointment: Aug 2, 1993
Presentation of Credentials: Sept 8, 1993
Termination of Mission: Left post Nov 15, 1996
 
Lino Gutierrez
Appointment: Jul 2, 1996
Presentation of Credentials: Dec 5, 1996
Termination of Mission: Left post Jul 21, 1999
 
Oliver P. Garza
Appointment: Jul 7, 1999
Presentation of Credentials: Sep 24, 1999
Termination of Mission: Left post Aug 30, 2002
Barbara C. Moore
Appointment: Aug 8, 2002
Presentation of Credentials: Sep 13, 2002
Termination of Mission: Left post, Jul 15, 2005
 
Paul A. Trivelli
Appointment: May 31, 2005
Presentation of Credentials: Sep 9, 2005
Termination of Mission: 2008
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Nicaragua's Ambassador to the U.S.
ambassador-image Campbell, Francisco

Ambassador from Nicaragua: Who is Francisco Campbell? 

 
Since May 2010, the ambassador from Nicaragua to the United States has been Francisco Obadiah Campbell Hooker, an experienced diplomat and academic who previously served in Nicaragua’s embassy in the early 1980s. The Nicaraguan opposition objected to the U.S. government’s acceptance of Campbell’s diplomatic credentials because the National Assembly had not confirmed his nomination, but Campbell has served without major incident. He has, however, been accused of nepotism because his wife, a diplomat in her own right, has been hired to work at the Nicaraguan consulate, also located in Washington, DC.
 
Born in the Atlantic coast city of Bluefields, Nicaragua, Campbell is a 1967 alumnus of the Instituto Cristóbal Colón in Bluefields. He earned a B.A. in Political Science at the University of Hawaii in 1974, and a Masters in International Relations at the same university in 1975. Campbell was Professor of Sociology at the Autonomous University of Nicaragua from 1976 to 1978.
 
An activist in the Sandinista National Liberation Front (FSLN), which was the main opposition to the corrupt, U.S.-backed regime of Anastasio Somoza, Campbell went into government service following the Nicaraguan Revolution in 1979. From 1982 to 1986, he served as Deputy Chief at Nicaragua’s Embassy in Washington DC, overseeing outreach activities and congressional relations, and served concurrently at Nicaragua’s Permanent Mission at the United Nations.
 
Campbell served as Nicaragua’s Ambassador to Zimbabwe from 1986 to 1990, when Zimbabwe held the Presidency of the Non-Aligned Movement. Campbell was concurrently Ambassador to Tanzania, Angola and Zambia, as well as Representative to the African National Congress and to the Southwest African People’s Organization, revolutionary organizations similar to the FSLN that led ultimately successful efforts to overturn the apartheid regime in South Africa and liberate Southwest Africa, now the independent nation of Namibia, from the domination of South Africa.
 
Leaving government service after the elections of 1990 turned out the Sandinista Party, Campbell focused on human rights and the development of his native Atlantic coast region. In 1990, he was a founder of the Foundation for the Autonomy and Development of the Atlantic Coast of Nicaragua, with which he has been involved ever since. In 1992 he also helped found the University of the Autonomous Regions of the Caribbean Coast of Nicaragua, where he was Vice-Chancellor General from 1992 to 1996. He has also served as President of the Center for Human, Civil and Autonomous Rights. In 1997, he won election as a Deputy to the Central American Parliament, based in Guatemala, where he has served as Clerk of the Board (1997 to 1998, 2002 to 2003), President of the International Relations Committee (1999 to 2002) and Vice President of the Board (2007 to 2008). 
 
Campbell is married to Miriam Hooker.
 
El embajador en Washington (La Prensa) (in Spanish)
 
 

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Nicaragua's Embassy Web Site in the U.S.
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Comments

Don 4 years ago
My bride and I have commented saeervl times how great it would be to have a Nicaraguan driving game where you could have the taxis rush to get in front of you and then come to a dead stop trying to pick up a fare, buses passing you on the right and sometimes falling into a ditch going up in flames, humongous car-swallowing potholes that suddenly appear, the guaro zombies tottering into the road or using speedbumps as pillows sticking their arms and legs out well into the road, not to mention the farm animals and people doing the chicken crossing the road trick i.e. running across the street right in front of you just to get a thrill I spose As they say on another website, it's a whole other world Good stuff as usual Tim!

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U.S. Ambassador to Nicaragua

Farrar, Jonathan
ambassador-image

A native of Los Angeles, Jonathan D. Farrar was confirmed as ambasador to Nicaragua on March 29, 2012. He previously served as the Chief of Mission of the U.S. Interests Section in Havana, Cuba, beginning in July 2008.
 
He studied at California State Polytechnic University Pomona, Claremont Graduate School and the Industrial College of the Armed Forces.
 
Farrar joined the State Department in 1980 as an economic officer and is a career member of the Senior Foreign Service.
 
Farrar has held a variety of domestic assignments in the State Department’s Bureau of Western Hemisphere Affairs, including service as deputy director of the Office of Andean Affairs and as country desk officer for Argentina. Farrar served twice on the staff of the Under Secretary for Democracy and Global Affairs, most recently as chief of staff to the Under Secretary from 2002 to 2004.
 
Farrar’s career includes extensive experience in Latin America. His most recent overseas posting was as the Deputy Chief of Mission in Montevideo, Uruguay. Farrar also served at the US embassies in Mexico, Belize, and Paraguay.
 
From 2004 to 2005, Farrar served as a Deputy Assistant Secretary in the State Department’s International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Bureau (INL), with responsibility for INL’s programs in the Western Hemisphere, Africa, Asia and Europe.
 
Farrar then served as the Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of the State Department’s Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor (DRL) and was DRL’s acting assistant secretary from August 2007 to March 2008. In this capacity, Farrar oversaw DRL’s human rights and democracy programs around the world, with a particular focus on Asia and the Western Hemisphere.
 

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Previous U.S. Ambassador to Nicaragua

Callahan, Robert
ambassador-image

Robert J. Callahan was sworn in as United States ambassador to Nicaragua on July 24, 2008. Callahan has a BA in modern European history from Loyola University in Chicago and an MA in American history from DePaul University, also in Chicago. He was an editor at Loyola University Press in Chicago before joining the Foreign Service. He speaks Spanish, Greek, and Italian.

 
Callahan joined the Foreign Service in 1979 and, after training and language classes, served in Costa Rica as assistant cultural affairs officer and in Honduras, first as cultural attaché and later as press officer. In 1985 he was assigned to the embassy in London as the ambassador’s speechwriter and assistant press attaché. In 1989 he returned to Latin America as counselor for public affairs in La Paz, Bolivia. 
 
After a tour in Washington from 1992-1995, which included Greek language training, Callahan became the counselor for public affairs in Athens and then from 1998-2002 he served as minister counselor for public affairs in Rome.  That summer he returned to the United States, where he taught for two years at the National War College in Washington, DC, on a detail assignment from the State Department.  In 2004, he volunteered to serve for one year as embassy spokesman and press attaché in Baghdad. 
 
He then served as director of public affairs at the Office of the Director of National Intelligence in Washington, DC, followed by his assignment as the first public diplomacy fellow at the School of Media and Public Affairs at George Washington University, a position created in August of 2005. 
 

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News
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Overview

Nicaragua is the largest country in Central America. It is also arguably the largest receiver of American interference in a region that has historically endured repeated disruption by those in Washington, DC. Like its neighbors, Nicaragua has a long, ugly history with the United States, going back to the middle 19th century, when the California Gold Rush first drew US interest in building a canal across Central America to shorten ocean voyages from one American coast to another. US involvement expanded in the early 20th century to include invasions by US Marines and American support for the Somoza family of dictators. The Somozas’ grip on Nicaragua came to an end in 1979 when the leftist Sandinistas overthrew the regime and set about on a series of reforms and political alliances with communist countries that alarmed the Reagan administration. Unwilling to accept a Soviet- and Cuban-backed government in Central America, the US trained and supported a right-wing guerilla movement known as the Contras that attempted to destabilize the Sandinista government.

 
In Washington, DC, officials on Capitol Hill questioned the administration’s characterization of the Contras as “freedom fighters” akin to America’s revolutionary Minutemen. Congress moved to cut funding for the Contras, setting off a series of reckless moves by Reagan subordinates that came to be known as the Iran-Contra scandal. Meanwhile, the Contras failed to overthrow the Sandinistas, instead settling for a peace agreement in 1990 that ended the civil war. The Sandinistas lost power in democratic elections, and their leader of the 1980s, Daniel Ortega, tried repeatedly to return to power through a series of unsuccessful presidential campaigns. But finally in 2006, Ortega was elected president once more, although now as a more conservative—but no less antagonistic—figure towards the US. Relations with the United States improved from the 1990s until 2007, when decisions by Ortega once again created strains with Washington, DC, over Nicaraguan relations with US enemies.
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Basic Information

Lay of the Land: Largest of the Central American countries, Nicaragua has three distinct geological areas – the Pacific coastal hills and lowlands, the central highlands rising to as much as 7,000 feet, and the wide Caribbean lowlands, swampy and mosquito-infested. Most of the people live and work on the Pacific coast or in the highlands. The Caribbean lowlands, hot and rainy, are nearly uninhabited, though they comprise nearly half the nation's territory.

 
Population: 5.8 million
 
Religions: Catholic 58.5%, evangelical Protestant (Assembly of God, Pentecostal...) 21.6%, Spiritist 1.5%, Ethnoreligious 0.5%, Muslim 0.1%, non-religious 15.7%.
 
Ethnic Groups: mestizo 695, white 17%, black 9%, Amerindian 5%.
 
Languages: Spanish (official) 80.6%, Mískito 2.9%,Nicaraguan Creole English 0.6%, Sumo-Mayangna 0.1%, Garifuna 0.01%, Rama 0.0001%.
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History

Nicaragua got its name from Nicarao, the leader of an indigenous community inhabiting the shores of Lake Nicaragua when the Spanish arrived in 1522 and conquered the area. Nicaragua was lumped together with Guatemala as part of Span’s regional governance. After declaring independence from Spain in 1821, Nicaragua was briefly part of the Mexican Empire of Agustín de Iturbide and then a member of the Central American Federation.

 
The United States first became interested in Nicaragua shortly after the discovery of gold in California in the 1850s, which prompted American ideas of building a transisthmian canal. In 1851, Cornelius Vanderbilt opened a route through Nicaragua for the gold seekers. The Clayton-Bulwer Treaty (1850) settled some of the issues between Great Britain and the United States concerning the proposed canal.
 
Dictator José Santos Zelaya came to power in 1894. He extended Nicaraguan authority over the Mosquito Coast, promoted economic development, and interfered in the affairs of neighboring countries. His financial dealings with Britain aroused the apprehension of the United States and helped bring about his downfall in 1909.
 
In 1912, US Marines were sent into Nicaragua to support the provisional president, Adolfo Díaz, in a civil war. The Bryan-Chamorro Treaty, giving the United States exclusive rights for a Nicaraguan canal and other privileges, was ratified in 1916. Liberals in Nicaragua opposed the US intervention, prompting guerrilla warfare against the US-supported regime for years. American occupation ended in 1925 but resumed the next year, when Emiliano Chamorro attempted to seize power. Augusto César Sandino was a leader of the anti-occupation forces. American diplomat Henry L. Stimson succeeded in getting most factions to agree in 1927 to binding elections, although Sandino continued to fight.
 
American Marines were withdrawn in 1933. Three years later Anastasio Somoza emerged as the strong man in Nicaragua. He officially became president in 1937 and ruled for 20 years. In the 1947 elections a new president was chosen, but he was ousted by Somoza after less than a month in office. Nicaragua virtually became Somoza’s private estate; the regime aroused much criticism among liberal groups in Latin America. Under Somoza relations with other Central American republics were poor. Somoza was assassinated in 1956, and his son Luis Somoza Debayle became president. Another son, Anastasio Somoza Debayle, headed the armed forces. The Somoza family engineered the election of René Schick Gutiérrez as president in 1963. After his death in 1966, Lorenzo Guerrero, the vice president, succeeded. Anastasio Somoza Debayle was elected president in 1967.
 
Although Somoza resigned from office in May 1972, he retained control of the country as head of the armed forces. After an earthquake in December 1972 devastated Managua, he became director of the emergency relief operations and diverted international aid to himself and his associates, an abuse that solidified opposition to the Somoza regime.
 
Somoza returned to the presidency in 1974 as objections to his regime increased. The opposition was grouped under two large factions, the Sandinista National Liberation Front (FSLN) and the Democratic Liberation Union (UDEL). Violent clashes between the Somoza government and the opposition mounted throughout the 1970s until the FSLN and UDEL toppled the Somoza government in 1979. The left-wing FSLN (or Sandinistas) took control of the government, instituting widespread social, political, and economic changes. Many economic institutions and resources were nationalized, land was redistributed, and social services such as health care and education were improved.
 
The United States was opposed to the Sandinista government and suspicious of its relations with the Soviet Union and Cuba. In 1981 the US cut off economic aid and began supporting counterrevolutionary military forces, or contras. After the US Congress acted to cut off aid to the contras, elements within the Reagan administration continued to covertly support the guerillas. In 1984 the United States illegally mined Nicaragua’s principal harbors, and in 1985 it instituted a trade embargo.
 
In 1984, the Sandinista regime held elections, and Daniel Ortega Saavedra was chosen president. The Sandinista government was popular especially with the peasants and the urban poor. Although it received substantial Soviet aid, it was increasingly unable to maintain the economy, and it curtailed civil liberties to silence dissent.
 
In the February 1990, elections were held under a Central American peace initiative. The FSLN was defeated by an opposition coalition, and Violeta Barrios de Chamorro, a political moderate, became president. Pleased by the downfall of the Sandinistas, the United States lifted its trade embargo, and the contras ceased fighting. Chamorro sought, with mixed success, to revive the economy and generate a conciliatory political environment. Tense relations between the Sandinistas and their opponents at times threatened to undermine her government.
 
Ortega ran for president again in 1996, but was defeated by José Arnoldo Alemán Lacayo, leader of the Liberal Alliance, a conservative coalition. The country was devastated by Hurricane Mitch in November 1998, which killed 4,000 people, including over 1,500 buried in a mudslide when the Casita volcano collapsed. Much of the country’s agricultural land and infrastructure were destroyed as well.
 
Liberals retained the presidency in the 2001 elections as Enrique Bolaños Geyer defeated Daniel Ortega. Bolaños launched an anticorruption campaign that led to the conviction of Alemán for embezzlement and other crimes in 2003. The move against Alemán, who was jailed but later released to detention at his farm, led to a power struggle in 2004 between Liberal party members in the national assembly, who formed an alliance with the Sandinistas, and President Bolaños. Legislators attempted to pass constitutional amendments curtailing the president’s powers and attempted to force him from office. An accord ending the dispute was negotiated in January 2005, but legislators subsequently passed the amendments, which the administration has ignored despite rulings from the Nicaraguan supreme court (largely appointed by the Sandinistas). The power struggle effectively paralyzed the government.
 
In July 2005, Bolaños’ opponents initiated impeachment proceedings, but in October Bolaños and Ortega reached an agreement that would delay the constitutional changes until 2007, after Bolaños had left office, and the legislature subsequently approved the move. In the November 2006, Ortega was elected president once again, after moving from the political left to a more centrist ideology, including opposition to abortion (which he favored while leading the country in the 1980s). The campaign was a three-way race in which the center-right vote was split between two candidates.
 
In March 2007, in a move that was seen by many observers as part of a deal between Ortega and former president Alemán, Alemán was freed from his house arrest.
 
Library of Congress Country Study (Library of Congress)
Political History of Nicaragua (Stanford University)
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History of U.S. Relations with Nicaragua

United States interest in Nicaragua began during the Gold Rush of the 1850s, when Americans sought a shortcut through Central America to avoid long voyages around South America. At first Nicaragua welcomed a US presence, thinking it would counterbalance the British presence in the area. In 1849, US diplomat and businessman Cornelius Vanderbilt signed a treaty with the Nicaraguan government which gave exclusive rights to the Accessory Transit Company (which Vanderbilt owned) to build a transisthmian canal across Nicaragua. The agreement also gave Vanderbilt and his company exclusive rights to land and water transit across Nicaragua while the canal was being built. In exchange, the US promised to protect Nicaragua from other foreign intervention. 

 
The agreement upset Britain, which attempted to block the operations of the Accessory Transit Company by force in 1850. The skirmish ended in the Clayton-Bulwer Treaty, negotiated and signed by the US and Britain. Under the treaty terms, both nations agreed that neither would claim exclusive power over the planned canal or any other part of the region. The Nicaraguan government wasn’t included in the negotiations. The canal remained under joint US and British control, with Britain controlling the port of San Juan del Norte and the US claiming ownership of the vessels, hotels, restaurants, and land transportation along the transit route.
 
During the 1840s and 50s, liberal and conservative factions were in constant struggle for control of Nicaragua. The Liberals found their upper-hand in William Walker, an adventurer from the United States who became entangled in Nicaragua’s civil war. The liberal faction hired Walker in 1855 as a mercenary, with the intent of establishing liberal domination over the conservative faction. Walker ultimately was the one who usurped power from both parties by installing himself as president of Nicaragua by means of a farcical election staged in 1856. He then set his sights on commandeering power throughout the rest of Central America, including taking control of Cornelius Vanderbilt’s canal.
 
Walker’s scheme angered Vanderbilt, the British, and the conservative governments of Central America, who pooled resources and influence to neutralize Walker and his forces. After much maneuvering and scuffle, and at the cost of thousands of Central American lives, Walker was forced to surrender in 1857. He spent a brief time in exile in the US before attempting on four occasions to sneak back into Central America. On the fourth try, Walker’s fate caught up with him in Honduras, where he was captured and executed in 1860. But the debacle with Walker, his murky alliances and animosities between the US government and various American corporations, fostered a deep mistrust toward the US in the Nicaraguan consciousness.
 
Paradoxically, Walker became the catalyst through which the warring liberal and conservative parties of Nicaragua came to compromise. The much coveted canal project was shelved when a railroad was built across Panama. The Nicaraguan canal was all but abandoned with the opening of the Panama Canal in 1914. 
 
But prior to 1914, the US still saw a Nicaraguan canal as viable and vied for control of the passageway. In 1909, the US provided support to the conservative faction rebelling against the liberal administration of President Jose Santos Zelaya. In addition to controlling access to the canal, Zelaya also angered the US by regulating foreign access to Nicaraguan natural resources. The US intervention of 1909 resulted in US warships being dispatched to Nicaragua and the resignation of Zelaya. US Marines occupied Nicaragua almost continuously from 1912-1933. The conservative party ruled Nicaragua from 1910-1926, and in 1914, the conservatives signed the Bryan-Chamorro Treaty with the US, giving the United States complete control of the proposed canal. 
 
From 1926-1933, Marines came and went from Nicaragua, supporting the conservatives in their battle with the liberals. The Marines were forced from the country in 1933 by the continuous revolt of Liberal General Augusto Cesar Sandino. Before the Marines left, they created the Guardia Nacional (National Guard), which combined military and police forces trained and equipped by the US, and designed to be loyal to American interests. The US placed Anastasio Somoza Garcia, who was a close friend of the American government, in charge of the Guardia Nacional. Nicaragua was then to be jointly ruled bySandino, Somoza Garcia and the figurehead President Juan Bautista Sacasa. But Somoza Garcia assassinated Sandino in 1934, and in 1937, he used the Guardia Nacional to depose Sacasa and take absolute power in a rigged election.
 
Somoza Garcia’s rule of Nicaragua was totalitarian and dictatorial, but he retained power by controlling the Guardia Nacional, owning much of the Nicaraguan economy, and via support from the US. His consolidated power extended to the legislature and judicial system, which were controlled by the Somoza family. The Guardia Nacional took control of the national radio and telegraph networks, the postal and immigration services, health services, the internal revenue service, and the national railroads.
           
Nicaragua was the first country to ratify the UN Charter and declared war on Germany during WWII. Although Somoza Garcia sent no Nicaraguan troops to Germany, he took the war as opportunity to confiscate wealthy properties held by German-Nicaraguans, which he in turn personally “purchased” from the government at laughably low prices. During WWII, Nicaraguan imports shot up as timber, gold and cotton were exported to the US, which compounded Nicaragua’s economic and political dependence on the US. But by the end of WWII, Somoza Garcia’s personal wealth was substantial, estimated at $60 million and resting on his ownership of the national Nicaraguan Airlines, the merchant marine lines, textile companies, sugar mills, rum distilleries, and the country’s only pasteurized milk facility.
 
The shenanigans of Garcia Somoza eventually resulted in his assassination in 1956, which was carried out by liberal Nicaraguan poet, Rigoberto Lopez Perez.
 
During the 1960s and 1970s, the Nicaraguan economy boomed. Industrialization was spurred by foreign investment, much of which came from US companies, including Citigroup, Sears, Westinghouse, and Coca Cola. Nicaragua became one of the most developed nations in Central America, until the capital city, Managua, was hit by a major earthquake in 1972 which destroyed 90% of the city. Foreign relief aid came pouring into Nicaragua, but was largely confiscated by President Anastasio Somoza, the son of Somoza Garcia. It is estimated that by 1974, Anastasio Somoza’s personal wealth rang in at $400million.
 
In 1961, young students angered at government corruption formed the Sandinista National Liberation Front. The movement was essentially miniscule, but threatened the Somoza government nonetheless. Between 1961 and 1979, the Somoza government imprisoned and murdered perceived Sandinista loyalists and other dissidents. The movement was all but incubated until the blatant corruption and mishandling of relief funds that followed the 1972 earthquake. The fallen city of Managua left many youths homeless and unemployed, and this sense of “nothing to lose” brought new recruits to the Sandinistas in droves. With the capital city of Managua and the national economy in shambles, middle and upper class Nicaraguans also turned to the Sandinistas, as they watched the Somoza family accumulate wealth while Nicaragua remained in pieces. The Sandinistas took control of the government in 1979, but they inherited a debt of $1.6 billion and 600,000 homeless.
          
While Jimmy Carter was in the White House during the late 1970s, his administration went to great lengths to work with the Sandinista government. This changed when President Ronald Reagan came into office in 1981. Unsettled by Nicaragua’s relationship with Cuba and the Soviet Union, who were then embroiled in Cold War rivalry with the US, the Reagan administration claimed that Nicaragua was partnered with Cuba and the Soviet Union in supplying arms to the guerrillas in El Salvador. As a result, the US cut all aid to Nicaragua, and in 1982, the Reagan administration offered support to groups trying to overthrow the Sandinista government. These groups coalesced into the Contras (short for contrarevolutionaries). Members initially came from ostracized elements of the old Guardia Nacional who were exiled in Honduras. This made the Contras highly unpopular with the Nicaraguan populace, although the Contras would later be joined by peasants from the north and the ethnic groups from the Caribbean coast who were seeking autonomy.
 
In 1985, the US ordered a total embargo on trade with Nicaragua, claiming the Sandinista government threatened US security in the region through its alliance with Cuba and the Soviet Union. Although Congress rejected continued financial support of the Contras in 1983, by 1986 the Reagan administration and Congress resumed Contra funding, forcing the Sandinistas to divert more and more resources from economic development to defense against the Contras. 
 
Support for the Contras was controversial, and debate raged within the United States until 1986 when the Iran-Contra scandal was uncovered. The Iran-Contra Affair was first disclosed by a Lebanese newspaper that reported the US had sold arms to Iran in exchange for hostages held by Hezbollah. Iran was at that time in the middle of the Iran-Iraq War and needed weapons from Western countries, which were unsupportive of the Iranian regime and largely unwilling to sell armaments to the Iranian military. Although the US officially backed the Iraqis, and was supplying Iraq with weapons, the Reagan Administration claimed that by selling Iran weapons, they sought to improve relations with Iran and in the process, influence Hezbollah to release Western hostages in their captivity. Ultimately, only three of the 30 hostages were released, but monies from the arms sale were diverted to the Contras during the time when Congress had ceased funding. 
 
The plan to fund the Contras with monies from the Iranian arms deal was architected by Lieutenant Colonel Oliver North, who served as aide on the National Security Council. The scandal was compounded when he and his secretary Fawn Hall shredded documents pertinent to the investigation into the affair. North also was implicated, along with then-governor Bill Clinton, of cocaine-dealing activities which also illegally funded the Contras. Those involved in the Iran-Contra included former President George H. W. Bush, Edwin Meese of the Iraq Study Group, John Poindexter of the Pentagon’s now defunct Total Information Awareness program, Otto Reich, President George W. Bush’s one-time Assistant Secretary of State for Latin America, Elliot Abrams, deputy assistant to President George W. Bush and Deputy National Security Advisor for Global Democracy Strategy, David Addington, Vice President Dick Cheney's Chief of Staff, Robert Gates, Secretary of Defense under George W. Bush, John Negroponte, ambassador to Iraq in 2004 and Director of National Intelligence in 2005, John Bolton, UN ambassador under George W. Bush, and Vice President Dick Cheney.
 
During the 2006 presidential election in Nicaragua, US Ambassador Paul A. Trivelli attempted to block Ortega’s election by funneling money to opposing parties. The move was denounced by influential groups such as the Organization of American States and the Council on Hemispheric Affairs.
 
Nicaragua: The Making of U.S. Policy (National Security Archives, George Washington University)
U.S. Terrorism in the Americas (Terror File Online)
National Security Archives: Iran-Contra (National Security Archive, George Washington University)
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Current U.S. Relations with Nicaragua

Noted Nicaraguan-Americans

 
Politician
Hilda Solis – Current United States Secretary of Labor. She served in the House of Representatives from 2001 to 2009 as the representative from Los Angeles-area congressional districts. She was confirmed as Secretary of Labor in February 2009 and is the first Hispanic woman to serve in the United States Cabinet.
 
Entertainment
Maurice Benard – Born in San Francisco to Nicaraguan and Salvadoran parents, he has appeared on All My Children (1987-1990) and General Hospital (1993-present). He has been nominated for five Daytime Emmy Awards and won in 2003.
 
Tony Meléndez – Born without arms, he has overcome his handicap and became a player, composer, singer, and songwriter. Despite his disability he learned to play the guitar with his feet. One of his most notable performances was for Pope John Paul II in 1987. 
 
DJ Craze – Born Aristh Delgado in Nicaragua, he came to the United States at the age of three. He is the only DJ to win the World DMC trophy 3 consecutive years.
 
Gabriel Traversari – He was born in Los Angeles but grew up in El Crucero, Nicaragua. He was the host of Univision’s first major original production, TV Mujer from 1988 to 1991. He has hosted episodes for “Behind the Scenes” an E! Entertainment series for Latin America.
 
Athletes
Bill Guerin - Hockey player currently playing right wing for the Pittsburgh Penguins. In 1989 he was the 5th overall pick in the NHL draft. His mother was born in Nicaragua.
 
Diana López – Represented the United States in Taekwondo at the 2008 Olypmics in Beijing. She and her brothers, Steven and Mark, are the first three siblings in any sport to win World Championship Titles at the same event during the World Taekwondo Championships in 2005.
 
Mark López – Silver-medalist at the 2008 Olympics in the Taekwondo -68kg division. He has also medaled at four World Championships.
 
Steven López – He is the oldest of the López siblings. He won gold medals in Taekwondo at the 2000 and 2004 Olympic Games and earned a bronze medal at the Beijing Olympics in 2008. He has five gold medals in World Championship competitions.
 
Other
Christianne Meneses Jacobs – writer, editor, teacher, and publisher of Iguana, the United States’ only Spanish-language magazine for children.
 
Hope Portocarrero Debayle de Somoza de Baldocchi – Born in Florida, she eventually married Anastasio Somoza Debayle and became Nicaragua’s First Lady. She was an icon of fashion, elegance, and high society. Her biggest legacies are the National Theater of Nicaragua, the Children’s Hospital, a clinic for Nicaraguan women, and a center for orphans. She and Somoza eventually were estranged and she remarried Archi Baldocchi in London.
 
Patrick Argüello – Nicaraguan-American doctor who, in 1970, was shot while attempting to hijack El Al Flight 219 as part of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine. As a Nicaraguan émigré in exile in Switzerland, he eventually came into contact with the Marxist Fourth International in Western Europe which agreed to offer military training to the Sandinista’s fledgling movement. Argüello, along with a small group of Nicaraguan Sandinista émigrés, made contact with the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) which agreed to give guerilla training on the condition of Nicaraguan participation in simultaneous hijackings of four European airliners to draw attention to the Palestinian issue.
 
Relations between the US and Nicaragua continued to sour following a number of moves by Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega that upset officials in Washington. While the international community condemned Russia for sending troops to support the two rebel enclaves South Ossetia and Abkhazia, Nicaragua quickly became the first country other than Russia to recognize the two provinces’ as independent nations. In response to Ortega’s action, US Secretary of Commerce Carlos Gutierrez canceled a planned trip to Nicaragua.

Ortega canceled his own visit with President Bush scheduled for September 2008 in New York. Ortega had been invited to discuss regional trade issues with Bush and other Central American leaders, but turned down the invitation in solidarity with his Bolivian counterpart Evo Morales, who recently expelled the US ambassador in La Paz, Philip Goldberg, for allegedly supporting anti-government protests.
 
The US has been trying to convince the Nicaraguan government to destroy more than 1,000 Soviet-era anti-aircraft missiles, one of the largest missile caches in the Western Hemisphere (outside the US). Ortega offered in 2006 to destroy more than 600 of the Sam-7 shoulder-fired rockets in exchange for US medical supplies, but then changed his mind. The government would prefer to hold onto them in case of a conflict with neighboring Colombia over an ongoing border dispute.

Further adding strain to relations is Nicaragua’s growing ties with American archenemy Iran, which has promised to help build a deep-water Caribbean port and several hydroelectric dams for the Central American country. Ortega also plans to deepen ties with Russia. Russian Deputy Prime Minister Igor Sechin visited Managua in September to strengthen trade and political ties and support energy projects in Nicaragua, where blackouts are common.
 
Since 1990, the United States has provided over $2 billion in assistance to Nicaragua. About $489 million of that was for debt relief, and another $488 million was for balance-of-payments support. The US also provided $94 million in 1999, 2000, and 2001 as part of its overall response to Hurricane Mitch. In response to Hurricane Felix, the United States provided over $15 million in direct aid to Nicaragua to support humanitarian relief and recovery operations from the damage inflicted in September 2007.
 
Assistance has been focused on promoting more citizen political participation, compromise, and government transparency; stimulating sustainable growth and income; and fostering better-educated and healthier families. The Millennium Challenge Corporation’s five-year, $175 million compact with Nicaragua entered into force on May 26, 2006. The Millennium Challenge Compact seeks to reduce poverty and spur economic growth by funding projects in the regions of León and Chinandega aimed at reducing transportation costs and improving access to markets for rural communities; increasing wages and profits from farming and related enterprises in the region; and attracting investment by strengthening property rights.
 
As of the 2000 US Census, 177,684 people identified themselves as being of Nicaraguan ancestry. Migration peaked during the 1980s, as a result of the Contra-Sandinista conflict. Between 1982 and 1992, approximately 10% of Nicaraguans fled their country, mostly to Costa Rica but also north into Guatemala, Mexico, and demographers estimate that there are twice as many illegal Nicaraguan immigrants as legal ones. When the Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986 offered amnesty to illegal immigrants able to prove that they had entered the US before 1986, 15,000 Nicaraguans applied for amnesty. This number was more than double the amount of Nicaraguans who migrated legally between 1979 and 1982. Other sources suggest that there were 175,000 undocumented Nicaraguans living in Miami in the late 1980s, even though the 1990 census had counted a total of 202,658 legal Nicaraguan immigrants in the entire US.
 
Miami is the capital of Nicaraguan expats in America. Large communities also exist in Los Angeles, San Francisco, and in parts of Texas.
 
In 2006, 168,939 Americans visited Nicaragua. The trend has been one of strong and consistent growth since 2002, when 97,863 Americans traveled to the Central American country.
 
A total of 39,720 Nicaraguans visited the US in 2006. There has been a slight increase in the number of tourists since 2002, when 36,387 Nicaraguans traveled to the US.
 
U.S.-Nicaraguan Relations Chill as Ortega Faces Domestic Tests (by Blake Schmidt, World Politics Review)
US Nicaraguan relations may be on downward spiral (by Karla Jacobs, Scoop Business)
United States-Nicaraguan Relations (Latin American Studies.org)
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Where Does the Money Flow

On April 1, 2006, the Central American Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA) entered into force for Nicaragua. In 2008, the United States imported $1.7 billion worth of goods from Nicaragua. Leading imports from Nicaragua include apparel and household goods ($1.1 billion); green coffee ($140 million); meat products, poultry, and edible animals ($102 million); fish and shellfish ($80 million); notions, writing, and art supplies ($62 million); and nonmonetary gold ($52 million).

 
American exports to Nicaragua totaled $1 billion in 2008, leaving the US with a trade deficit with the Central American country. The leading export was pharmaceutical preparations, at $143 million. Other top exports were rice ($67 millioncotton fiber cloth ($43 million), ), fuel oil ($42.5 million), wheat ($40.3 million), telecommunications equipment ($35.3 million), computer accessories ($23 million) and industrial machines ($22.7 million).
 
Foreign investment inflows totaled $337 million in 2007, including US firm Cone Denim’s $100 million plant. There are over 100 companies operating in Nicaragua with some relation to a US company, either wholly or partly owned subsidiaries, franchisees, or exclusive distributors of US products. The largest are in energy, financial services, apparel, manufacturing, and fisheries.
 
According to the Congressional Budget for the Fiscal Year 2010 the US gave Nicaragua an estimated $27.1 million in aid in 2009. The largest recipient programs were Development Assistance ($18.1 million), Child Survival and Health through USAID ($6.4 million), Investing in People ($9 million), Governing Justly and Democratically ($8 million), and Economic Growth ($7.2 million).
 
The 2010 budget increased funding over 2009 levels, up to $65.2 million. The largest recipient programs in 2010 will be Development Assistance ($55.5 million), Investment in Agriculture ($24 million), Governing Justly and Democratically ($16.1 million), Investing in Health ($7.1 million), and Global Health and Child Survival through USAID ($5.7 million).
 
The US sold $661,967 of defense articles and services to Nicaragua in 2007.
 
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Controversies

US Suspends Aid Program to Nicaragua

In November 2008 the United States suspended an American-run aid program in Nicaragua in response to concerns over recent elections in the country. The head of the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC), John Danilovich, said the recent election in Nicaragua showed the administration of President Daniel Ortega was no longer committed to holding peaceful and fair elections. The Millennium Challenge Corporation helps developing countries that show a commitment to good governance, economic freedom and the elimination of extreme poverty. Nicaragua has been in political turmoil since early November, when its Supreme Electoral Council said Ortega’s ruling Sandinista Party had won 105 of the 146 mayoral elections. Opponents claimed the elections were rigged.
 
The move by the MCC came following threats in 2006 by Congressman Dan Burton (R-IN), then chair of the Western Hemisphere Subcommittee of the House Committee on International Relations, that the US would cutoff all funding from the corporation if Nicaragua re-elected Ortega as president. During the ’06 contest, the US ambassador to Nicaragua, Paul Trivelli, was accused of funneling money to Ortega’s opponents.
 
Nicaragua Bolsters Ties with Iran
Nicaragua signed lucrative contracts with Iran in 2007 in defiance of warnings from the United States. President Daniel Ortega brushed aside Washington’s concerns by agreeing to trade bananas, coffee and meat in exchange for Iranian help with infrastructure projects. In return for Nicaraguan agricultural goods, Iran will help fund a farm equipment factory, 4,000 tractors, five milk-processing plants, a health clinic, 10,000 houses and a deep-water port. Iran was also expected to choose a site for hydroelectric power station, with another three plants potentially to follow. In addition to moving closer to Iran, Ortega has upgraded ties with Cuba and North Korea, and visited Algeria, Libya and Cuba in a jet lent by Libya’s Muammar Gadafy.

Nicaragua defies US with Iran trade deal (by Rory Carroll, The Guardian)

                                                                   
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Human Rights

In October 2008, Human Rights Watch wrote that the “Nicaraguan government should take steps to ensure that human rights defenders are free to promote and protect women’s rights without harassment or intimidation.” They claim that Nicaragua’s blanket abortion laws are incompatible with international human rights law because they infringe on the protection of rights to life, health, and nondiscrimination. In summary, Human Rights Watch advocates protection from women’s rights defenders who have been subject to intimidation that includes threatening phone calls and acts of anonymous vandalism. Since the enactment of the blanket abortion law, dozens of women with medical conditions that require therapeutic abortion or emergency obstetric care have died or suffered sever disabilities. Amnesty International is in agreement with Human Rights Watch’s stand and has promoted a letter-writing campaign to express concern for women’s rights defenders who have been targeted for their human rights work.

 
According to the U.S. State Department, Nicaragua’s most significant human rights abuses during the past year include “unlawful killings by security forces; harsh and overcrowded prison conditions; police abuse; lengthy pretrial detention; lack of respect for the rule of law and widespread corruption and politicization of the judiciary… and other governmental organs; erosion of freedom of speech and press, including governmental intimidation and harassment of journalists.”
 
The State Department reported four instances of security forces committing unlawful killings. In one case, security forces from the Nicaragua National Police killed a soldier who had been home on leave. In another case, in September 2008 three police officers killed 15-year-old Luis Angel Vargas Salgado after he knocked over a police security cone with his bicycle. This resulted in a riot during which community members burned down the La Paz Centro police station to protest the failure of officials to reprimand the officers who committed the killing.
 
In addition to the killings, the State Department also reports the use of torture and other cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment and punishment. NGOs have received complaints of police use of excessive force or degrading treatment that has caused injuries to criminal suspects. In addition to violence during arrests, prison conditions have continued to deteriorate due to an “antiquated infrastructure and increasing inmate population.” In some instances, jails and holding facilities lacked potable water, had in adequate ventilation, or were infested with vermin. It has fallen upon family members, churches, and other organizations to provide prisoners with food and medical attention.
 
According to the State Department freedom of speech and press, although protected by the Nicaraguan Constitution, have often been infringed upon. The government has used administrative, judicial, and financial means to limit speech and press. Especially during municipal and national elections, the government is quick to accuse media outlets of influencing the outcome of the votes. The government is known to harass and intimidate radio and print media.
 
Lastly, the State Department reports that minority indigenous groups in Nicaragua are subject to government discrimination through the lack of representation in the nation’s legislative branch. Human rights organizations claim that the government has failed to protect minority communities’ civil and political rights to land, natural resources, and local autonomy.
 
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Debate
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Past Ambassadors

George Evans
Note: Not commissioned; nomination withdrawn before the Senate acted upon it.

 
John B. Kerr
Appointment: Mar 12, 1851
Presentation of Credentials: [Feb 18, 1851]
Termination of Mission: Left post Jun 1, 1853
Note: Letters of credence for Kerr were issued both to Nicaragua and to the National Representation of Central America; credentials to the latter were not presented. Officially recognized on Feb 18, 1851.
 
John Slidell
Appointment: Mar 29, 1853
Note: Commissioned during a recess of the Senate. Commissioned to Central America; declined appointment.
 
Solon Borland
Appointment: Apr 18, 1853
Presentation of Credentials: Sep 14, 1853
Termination of Mission: Left Nicaragua, Apr 17, 1854
Note: Commissioned during a recess of the Senate; recommissioned after confirmation on Feb 9, 1854. Commissioned to Central America, but presented credentials only in Nicaragua.
 
John H. Wheeler
Appointment: Aug 2, 1854
Presentation of Credentials: Apr 7, 1855
Termination of Mission: Left Nicaragua soon after Oct 23, 1856
 
Mirabeau B. Lamar
Appointment: Dec 23, 1857
Note: Also accredited to Costa Rica; resident at Managua. Lamar's appointment as Envoy Extraordinary and Minister Plenipotentiary to Nicaragua was revoked.
Mirabeau B. Lamar
Appointment: Jan 20, 1858
Presentation of Credentials: Feb 8, 1858
Termination of Mission: Left post May 20, 1859
Note: Also accredited to Costa Rica, resident at Managua.
 
Alexander Dmitry
Appointment: Aug 15, 1859
Presentation of Credentials: Dec 7, 1859
Termination of Mission: Transmitted recall by note from San Jose, Apr 27, 1861
Note: Commissioned during a recess of the Senate; recommissioned after confirmation on Jan 24, 1860. Also accredited to Costa Rica; resident partly at Managua and partly at San Jose.
 
Andrew B. Dickinson
Appointment: Mar 28, 1861
Presentation of Credentials: Jul 11, 1861
Termination of Mission: Superseded, Jan 15, 1863
 
Thomas H. Clay
Appointment: Oct 21, 1862
Presentation of Credentials: Jan 15, 1863
Termination of Mission: Superseded, May 31, 1863
 
Andrew B. Dickinson
Appointment: Apr 18, 1863
Presentation of Credentials: May 31, 1863
Termination of Mission: Presented recall, Jul 29, 1869
James R. Partridge
Note: Not commissioned; nomination withdrawn before the Senate acted upon it.
 
C.N. Riotte
Appointment: Apr 21, 1869
Presentation of Credentials: Jul 29, 1869
Termination of Mission: Left Nicaragua, Jan 15, 1873
 
George Williamson
Appointment: May 17, 1873
Presentation of Credentials: Nov 1, 1873
Termination of Mission: Notified Government of Nicaragua by note from Amapala, Honduras, Jan 31, 1879, that he had resigned
Note: Commissioned during a recess of the Senate; recommissioned after confirmation on Dec 10, 1873. Commissioned to "the Central American States" but accredited individually to Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, and Nicaragua; resident at Guatemala.
 
Cornelius A. Logan
Appointment: Apr 2, 1879
Presentation of Credentials: [Jul 30, 1879]
Termination of Mission: Transmitted recall by note from Guatemala on or soon after Apr 15, 1882
Note: Officially recognized on Jul 30, 1879. Commissioned to "the Central American States" but accredited individually to Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, and Nicaragua; resident at Guatemala.
 
Henry C. Hall
Appointment: Apr 17, 1882
Presentation of Credentials: [Aug 12, 1882]
Termination of Mission: Presented recall, May 23, 1889
 
Lansing B. Mizner
Appointment: Mar 30, 1889
Presentation of Credentials: Aug 7, 1889
Termination of Mission: Relinquished charge at Guatemala, Dec 31, 1890
Note: Commissioned to "the Central American States" but accredited individually to Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, and Nicaragua; resident at Guatemala.
 
Romualdo Pacheco
Appointment: Dec 11, 1890
Presentation of Credentials: On or shortly before May 21, 1891
Termination of Mission: Presented recall, Oct 13, 1891
Note: Commissioned to "the Central American States" but accredited individually to Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, and Nicaragua; resident at Guatemala.
 
Richard Cutts Shannon
Appointment: Aug 8, 1891
Presentation of Credentials: Oct 13, 1891
Termination of Mission: Left Nicaragua Apr 30, 1893
Note: Commissioned during a recess of the Senate; recommissioned after confirmation on Dec 23, 1891. Also accredited to Costa Rica and El Salvador; resident at Managua.
 
Lewis Baker
Appointment: Apr 4, 1893
Presentation of Credentials: May 13, 1893
Termination of Mission: Presented recall, Dec 9, 1897
Note: Also accredited to Costa Rica and El Salvador; resident at Managua.
 
William L. Merry
Appointment: Jul 17, 1897
Presentation of Credentials: Mar 1, 1899
Termination of Mission: Recommissioned to a different combination of countries
Note: Commissioned as Envoy Extraordinary and Minister Plenipotentiary to Nicaragua, Costa Rica, and El Salvador; resident at San Jose.
William L. Merry
Presentation of Credentials: Dec 12, 1907
Termination of Mission: Superseded, Aug 24, 1908
Note: Commissioned as Envoy Extraordinary and Minister Plenipotentiary to Nicaragua and Costa Rica; resident at San Jose
 
John Gardner Coolidge
Appointment: Jun 5, 1908
Presentation of Credentials: Aug 24, 1908
Termination of Mission: Appointment terminated, Nov 21, 1908
Note: Commissioned during a recess of the Senate.
 
Horace G. Knowles
Appointment: Jan 11, 1909
Note: Took oath of office, but did not proceed to post. John H. Gregory, Jr., was serving as Chargé d'Affaires ad interim on Mar 12, 1909, on which date he notified the Government of Nicaragua of the closing of the American Legation at Managua.
 
Elliott Northcott
State of Residency: West Virginia
Title: Envoy Extraordinary and Minister Plenipotentiary
Appointment: Jan 9, 1911
Presentation of Credentials: Feb 21, 1911
Termination of Mission: Left post Jun 23, 1911
 
George T. Weitzel
Appointment: Dec 21, 1911
Presentation of Credentials: Jan 22, 1912
Termination of Mission: Left post Apr 19, 1913
 
Benjamin L. Jefferson
Appointment: Jun 21, 1913
Presentation of Credentials: Sep 5, 1913
Termination of Mission: Left post Oct 24, 1921
 
John E. Ramer
Appointment: Oct 8, 1921
Presentation of Credentials: Dec 30, 1921
Termination of Mission: Left Nicaragua, Apr 5, 1925
 
Charles C. Eberhardt
Appointment: Mar 12, 1925
Presentation of Credentials: Aug 7, 1925
Termination of Mission: Left post May 10, 1929
 
Matthew E. Hanna
Appointment: Dec 16, 1929
Presentation of Credentials: Apr 11, 1930
Termination of Mission: Left Nicaragua, Sep 6, 1933
 
Arthur Bliss Lane
Appointment: Jul 31, 1933
Presentation of Credentials: Dec 7, 1933
Termination of Mission: Left post Mar 14, 1936
Note: Commissioned during a recess of the Senate; recommissioned after confirmation on Jan 15, 1934.
 
Boaz Long
Appointment: Jan 24, 1936
Presentation of Credentials: Mar 19, 1936
Termination of Mission: Left post Apr 1, 1938
 
Meredith Nicholson
Appointment: Mar 22, 1938
Presentation of Credentials: Jun 9, 1938
Termination of Mission: Left post Feb 27, 1941
 
Pierre de L. Boal
Appointment: Mar 20, 1941
Presentation of Credentials: Jul 24, 1941
Termination of Mission: Left post Mar 5, 1942
 
James B. Stewart
Appointment: Mar 5, 1942
Presentation of Credentials: Jun 12, 1942
Termination of Mission: Left post Jan 4, 1945
 
Fletcher Warren
Appointment: Apr 6, 1945
Presentation of Credentials: May 9, 1945
Termination of Mission: Left post May 4, 1947
 
George P. Shaw
Appointment: May 22, 1948
Presentation of Credentials: Sep 1, 1948
Termination of Mission: Left post Jun 8, 1949
 
Capus M. Waynick
Appointment: May 21, 1949
Presentation of Credentials: Jul 12, 1949
Termination of Mission: Left post Jul 22, 1951
 
Thomas E. Whelan
Appointment: Jul 28, 1951
Presentation of Credentials: Nov 3, 1951
Termination of Mission: Left post Mar 22, 1961
 
Aaron S. Brown
Appointment: Mar 29, 1961
Presentation of Credentials: Apr 21, 1961
Termination of Mission: Left post May 3, 1967
 
Kennedy M. Crockett
Appointment: Jul 27, 1967
Presentation of Credentials: Aug 21, 1967
Termination of Mission: Left post Apr 19, 1970
 
Turner B. Shelton
Appointment: Oct 6, 1970
Presentation of Credentials: Nov 20, 1970
Termination of Mission: Left post Aug 11, 1975
 
James D. Theberge
Appointment: Jul 11, 1975
Presentation of Credentials: Aug 11, 1975
Termination of Mission: Left post Jun 8, 1977
Mauricio Solaun
Appointment: Jul 29, 1977
Presentation of Credentials: Sep 30, 1977
Termination of Mission: Left post Feb 26, 1979
 
Lawrence A. Pezzullo
Appointment: May 17, 1979
Presentation of Credentials: Jul 31, 1979
Termination of Mission: Left post Aug 18, 1981
 
Anthony Cecil Eden Quainton
Appointment: Mar 9, 1982
Presentation of Credentials: Mar 26, 1982
Termination of Mission: Left post May 6, 1984
 
 
Harry E. Bergold, Jr.
Appointment: May 3, 1984
Presentation of Credentials: May 31, 1984
Termination of Mission: Left post Jul 1, 1987
 
Richard Huntington Melton
Appointment: Apr 1, 1988
Presentation of Credentials: May 4, 1988
Termination of Mission: Departure requested by the Government of Nicaragua, Jul 11, 1988
Note: Melton left post Jul 12, 1988, and did not return. John P. Leonard served as Chargé d'Affaires ad interim, Jul 1988–Jun 1990.
 
Harry W. Shlaudeman
Appointment: May 25, 1990
Presentation of Credentials: Jun 21, 1990
Termination of Mission: Left post Mar 14, 1992
Note: Ronald D. Godard served as Chargé d'Affaires ad interim, Mar 1992–Sep 1993.
 
Joseph Gerard Sullivan
Note: Nomination not acted upon by the Senate.
 
John Francis Maisto
Appointment: Aug 2, 1993
Presentation of Credentials: Sept 8, 1993
Termination of Mission: Left post Nov 15, 1996
 
Lino Gutierrez
Appointment: Jul 2, 1996
Presentation of Credentials: Dec 5, 1996
Termination of Mission: Left post Jul 21, 1999
 
Oliver P. Garza
Appointment: Jul 7, 1999
Presentation of Credentials: Sep 24, 1999
Termination of Mission: Left post Aug 30, 2002
Barbara C. Moore
Appointment: Aug 8, 2002
Presentation of Credentials: Sep 13, 2002
Termination of Mission: Left post, Jul 15, 2005
 
Paul A. Trivelli
Appointment: May 31, 2005
Presentation of Credentials: Sep 9, 2005
Termination of Mission: 2008
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Nicaragua's Ambassador to the U.S.
ambassador-image Campbell, Francisco

Ambassador from Nicaragua: Who is Francisco Campbell? 

 
Since May 2010, the ambassador from Nicaragua to the United States has been Francisco Obadiah Campbell Hooker, an experienced diplomat and academic who previously served in Nicaragua’s embassy in the early 1980s. The Nicaraguan opposition objected to the U.S. government’s acceptance of Campbell’s diplomatic credentials because the National Assembly had not confirmed his nomination, but Campbell has served without major incident. He has, however, been accused of nepotism because his wife, a diplomat in her own right, has been hired to work at the Nicaraguan consulate, also located in Washington, DC.
 
Born in the Atlantic coast city of Bluefields, Nicaragua, Campbell is a 1967 alumnus of the Instituto Cristóbal Colón in Bluefields. He earned a B.A. in Political Science at the University of Hawaii in 1974, and a Masters in International Relations at the same university in 1975. Campbell was Professor of Sociology at the Autonomous University of Nicaragua from 1976 to 1978.
 
An activist in the Sandinista National Liberation Front (FSLN), which was the main opposition to the corrupt, U.S.-backed regime of Anastasio Somoza, Campbell went into government service following the Nicaraguan Revolution in 1979. From 1982 to 1986, he served as Deputy Chief at Nicaragua’s Embassy in Washington DC, overseeing outreach activities and congressional relations, and served concurrently at Nicaragua’s Permanent Mission at the United Nations.
 
Campbell served as Nicaragua’s Ambassador to Zimbabwe from 1986 to 1990, when Zimbabwe held the Presidency of the Non-Aligned Movement. Campbell was concurrently Ambassador to Tanzania, Angola and Zambia, as well as Representative to the African National Congress and to the Southwest African People’s Organization, revolutionary organizations similar to the FSLN that led ultimately successful efforts to overturn the apartheid regime in South Africa and liberate Southwest Africa, now the independent nation of Namibia, from the domination of South Africa.
 
Leaving government service after the elections of 1990 turned out the Sandinista Party, Campbell focused on human rights and the development of his native Atlantic coast region. In 1990, he was a founder of the Foundation for the Autonomy and Development of the Atlantic Coast of Nicaragua, with which he has been involved ever since. In 1992 he also helped found the University of the Autonomous Regions of the Caribbean Coast of Nicaragua, where he was Vice-Chancellor General from 1992 to 1996. He has also served as President of the Center for Human, Civil and Autonomous Rights. In 1997, he won election as a Deputy to the Central American Parliament, based in Guatemala, where he has served as Clerk of the Board (1997 to 1998, 2002 to 2003), President of the International Relations Committee (1999 to 2002) and Vice President of the Board (2007 to 2008). 
 
Campbell is married to Miriam Hooker.
 
El embajador en Washington (La Prensa) (in Spanish)
 
 

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Nicaragua's Embassy Web Site in the U.S.
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Comments

Don 4 years ago
My bride and I have commented saeervl times how great it would be to have a Nicaraguan driving game where you could have the taxis rush to get in front of you and then come to a dead stop trying to pick up a fare, buses passing you on the right and sometimes falling into a ditch going up in flames, humongous car-swallowing potholes that suddenly appear, the guaro zombies tottering into the road or using speedbumps as pillows sticking their arms and legs out well into the road, not to mention the farm animals and people doing the chicken crossing the road trick i.e. running across the street right in front of you just to get a thrill I spose As they say on another website, it's a whole other world Good stuff as usual Tim!

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U.S. Ambassador to Nicaragua

Farrar, Jonathan
ambassador-image

A native of Los Angeles, Jonathan D. Farrar was confirmed as ambasador to Nicaragua on March 29, 2012. He previously served as the Chief of Mission of the U.S. Interests Section in Havana, Cuba, beginning in July 2008.
 
He studied at California State Polytechnic University Pomona, Claremont Graduate School and the Industrial College of the Armed Forces.
 
Farrar joined the State Department in 1980 as an economic officer and is a career member of the Senior Foreign Service.
 
Farrar has held a variety of domestic assignments in the State Department’s Bureau of Western Hemisphere Affairs, including service as deputy director of the Office of Andean Affairs and as country desk officer for Argentina. Farrar served twice on the staff of the Under Secretary for Democracy and Global Affairs, most recently as chief of staff to the Under Secretary from 2002 to 2004.
 
Farrar’s career includes extensive experience in Latin America. His most recent overseas posting was as the Deputy Chief of Mission in Montevideo, Uruguay. Farrar also served at the US embassies in Mexico, Belize, and Paraguay.
 
From 2004 to 2005, Farrar served as a Deputy Assistant Secretary in the State Department’s International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Bureau (INL), with responsibility for INL’s programs in the Western Hemisphere, Africa, Asia and Europe.
 
Farrar then served as the Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of the State Department’s Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor (DRL) and was DRL’s acting assistant secretary from August 2007 to March 2008. In this capacity, Farrar oversaw DRL’s human rights and democracy programs around the world, with a particular focus on Asia and the Western Hemisphere.
 

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Previous U.S. Ambassador to Nicaragua

Callahan, Robert
ambassador-image

Robert J. Callahan was sworn in as United States ambassador to Nicaragua on July 24, 2008. Callahan has a BA in modern European history from Loyola University in Chicago and an MA in American history from DePaul University, also in Chicago. He was an editor at Loyola University Press in Chicago before joining the Foreign Service. He speaks Spanish, Greek, and Italian.

 
Callahan joined the Foreign Service in 1979 and, after training and language classes, served in Costa Rica as assistant cultural affairs officer and in Honduras, first as cultural attaché and later as press officer. In 1985 he was assigned to the embassy in London as the ambassador’s speechwriter and assistant press attaché. In 1989 he returned to Latin America as counselor for public affairs in La Paz, Bolivia. 
 
After a tour in Washington from 1992-1995, which included Greek language training, Callahan became the counselor for public affairs in Athens and then from 1998-2002 he served as minister counselor for public affairs in Rome.  That summer he returned to the United States, where he taught for two years at the National War College in Washington, DC, on a detail assignment from the State Department.  In 2004, he volunteered to serve for one year as embassy spokesman and press attaché in Baghdad. 
 
He then served as director of public affairs at the Office of the Director of National Intelligence in Washington, DC, followed by his assignment as the first public diplomacy fellow at the School of Media and Public Affairs at George Washington University, a position created in August of 2005. 
 

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