MANAGUA (AP) – After 35 years of working on social projects in Nicaragua, the Swedish non-governmental organization We Effect announced its “urgent” withdrawal from the country, due to the entry into force of the controversial Law for the Regulation of Foreign Agents, with which the government of Daniel Ortega seeks to control external financing to natural and legal persons.
“Unfortunately, we see no other option but to finish our work in Nicaragua. It is with the greatest sadness that we made this decision, ”said We Effect General Secretary Anna Tibblin in a statement posted on the NGO’s website.
Tibblin stressed that the European organization has worked in the country since 1985 (the time of the first Sandinista government of Ortega) “and would like to continue supporting the peasants of Nicaragua in their fight against hunger and poverty.”
The Law for the Regulation of Foreign Agents – approved by Parliament under the control of the ruling Sandinista Front – entered into force on October 19 and will begin to apply as of December 19, according to the provisions of the authorities.
The controversial legislation obliges all people, companies and NGOs that receive funds from abroad to register as “foreign agents” and account to the State for the use of those resources. Penalties for noncompliance with the law range from fines to jail time to confiscation of property.
“We Effect has analyzed the legislation and does not see that there is any viable way to avoid (registration) and by registering it would be impossible for the organization to carry out relevant development cooperation work in the country,” Tibblin said.
He added that the NGO’s headquarters in Stockholm commissioned the Regional Office “to urgently draw up an exit plan from the country.”
The non-governmental Nicaraguan Center for Human Rights (Cenidh), banned by Ortega two years ago, lamented the withdrawal of We Effect from Nicaragua.
“This confirms the criminalization of solidarity, we are at a dead end,” Marlin Sierra, director of Cenidh, which was closed on December 13, 2018, told The Associated Press along with a dozen NGOs that the government accused of support the social protests that broke out in April of that year.
According to Sierra, the Ortega government, in power since 2007, not only intends to control the financial resources of organizations and individuals, “but in practice to completely liquidate all those organizations that contribute to the construction of citizenship and ensure that the human rights in Nicaragua ”.
“They seek to monopolize foreign aid and use it for their political patronage, they want to subject the people to hunger and misery to perpetuate themselves in power,” he asserted.