During the 1980’s Nicaragua’s international image suffered greatly with the infamous Contra War, one of the last theatres of the Cold War. Since peace was achieved in 1990, Nicaragua’s image as one of the safest and most peaceful countries in Latin America emerged. Still, Nicaragua’s name continued to be associated with problems that no longer existed. The silver lining is that this image problem has acted as a filter on tourism, keeping Nicaragua from being overrun by all-inclusive resorts and mass tourism that might do more damage than good.
In April of 2018 a small group of students were protesting a slow government response to fight wildfires in Nicaragua’s precious Indio-Maíz Biological Reserve. The Nicaragua university students were concerned about preserving this great ecological heritage. Then at the exact same moment a new Social Security law was passed in an attempt to shore up a finically unstable government institution. The details of the new law also brought localized demonstrations.
Nicaragua’s police were unaccustomed to any dissent at all and caught flat-footed by the combined protests. They reacted with deadly force. This caused outrage countrywide and protests spread around the country. By the end of May protests had grown to nearly half-million people in Managua alone and universities were being occupied in protest by students. The more the police reacted, the stronger the barricades were made, until an exhausted stalemate was present in June of 2018.
One of the most economical and historically common forms of protest in Nicaragua has been road blocks. Branches, old tires, paver stones and other things being put into the road to stop commerce and transport for anywhere to 10 mins to one week, depending on the will of the protestors. These roadblocks made tourism impossible, you just could not travel reliably from point A to point B.
Whereas the logistical problem of roadblocks existed, the ugly reality of the police actions destroyed Nicaragua’s image once again on the international stage. Negative press streamed around the world. Nicaragua’s problem went viral. Tourism ground to a complete halt.
In early July the government used force to lift the roadblocks and put down the protest. It only took one month to regain complete control of the country and completely block any and all protests.
Since August of 2018 Nicaragua has returned to peace. There are no more protests. No more roadblocks. It will take time for Nicaragua’s tourism to regain the momentum it lost. It is no easy task to repair an image damaged twice so greatly.
Despite this, must be said tourism is a critical industry in a poor country like Nicaragua and your visit has a great positive impact on the private sector and all the people who depend on tourism in Nicaragua to make a living. We invite you to visit Nicaragua and see for yourself that it is a country in peace and enjoy its unique hospitality, nature and culture.