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CID-Gallup: “Nicaraguans desire change, but it is not in sight”

Luis Haug: "The political situation and fear influence the desire to migrate, but the vast majority want to leave the country for economic reasons"

Some citizens wait for a bus at a stop in Managua. Photo: Confidential

Carlos F. Chamorro

1 de noviembre 2022


The latest public opinion survey of Costa Rican firm CID Gallup was conducted in Nicaragua between September 26 and October 10, through telephone interviews with 1200 citizens over 16 years old, with an active cell phone line, and has a margin of error of +/- 2.8.

"In Nicaragua, there is a lot of hopelessness and a desire for change, but this is not in sight at the moment", explained the director of CID Gallup, Luis Haug, when analyzing the results of the survey. The results also confirm the willingness of 58% of Nicaraguans to migrate, the increase in the cost of living, the growing unpopularity of Rosario Murillo and Daniel Ortega, and the tendency to abstain in the upcoming municipal elections.

This survey was conducted among 1200 Nicaraguans distributed throughout the national territory who have cell phones. How did CID Gallup reach these 1200 people and how did it get them to respond under the climate of fear and police state that exists in Nicaragua? 

We obtained the sample randomly so that we could cover the entire country and have a representation of the adult population, over 16 years of age, residing in Nicaragua. Our call centers are in Costa Rica and Panama, and when the Nicaraguan citizen is receiving the call, the prefix he gets is from a foreign number. This gives them enough confidence to answer political issues as well. We choose the numbers randomly.

 Between January and May, 58% of respondents said that the cost of living was increasing. In four months, that number has risen to 74%. What do respondents have to say?

The perception of those interviewed is that they don’t have enough money to cover the price of basic items. Affording the needs of the household is getting more expensive every day and, coupled with the lack of employment in the country and the large number of people who are in need of a better job and better income, people simply do not have enough money at this time.

Eighteen percent say that once a month they do not have money to buy food and the survey says that more than 50% are in a situation of food insecurity.

There is definitely hunger in Nicaragua right now. The high cost of living is already having a direct impact on people's eating habits. We see that more than half of the people are already afraid that they will not have enough to eat at some point during the month.

Are these data from the rural areas of the interior of the country or does it also cover the main cities?

Unfortunately, it is happening at the country level, in the rural areas, in the urban areas, and in the capital city itself, there is a shortage of money to cover meals for families. 

64% say that the economic situation of their family is worse than last year, and when asked about the economic situation of the country, the answer is identical, 64% say that it is worse.

It is perceived that the country's economy is deteriorating. This has a very direct impact on families, there is a feeling that much of this deterioration in the quality of life of citizens is due to the high level of corruption that exists in the government and that therefore the various aids or actions that could be taken to improve the current situation are having an impact on the country's economy.

58% of those surveyed say they would leave the country if they had the resources, mainly to the United States, Costa Rica, and Spain. Last Thursday, for the first time, Daniel Ortega admitted that there is an exodus in Nicaragua, but he blamed the United States and says that people are migrating because of US sanctions, what do Nicaraguans say in this survey? 

There are two reasons for wanting to migrate. One reason is that the destination country attracts the citizen, because the hope of a better quality of life is on the other side of the border, say, in the United States. The other is when the country of origin expels its citizens because it is not providing them with basic necessities. 

Currently, in Nicaragua, there is a very important reason and that is the lack of money to have a decent quality of life. People want to leave because they perceive that there are no jobs in the country and -for those who have jobs- the income is not enough to cover their basic needs and, therefore, they are forced to leave to look for new places. Not because they want to leave Nicaragua. In the vast majority of cases, when you talk to them, they want to stay together with their families, but it is a necessity for survival, both for themselves and to be able to send money back to their family members who stay in Nicaragua. 

How much importance is given to the political situation, the lack of freedoms, and on the other hand, the economic factor?

The political situation weighs relatively little for the great majority of the population. Yes, there is a group, of a higher level, more educated, prepared, and of greater influence in the different media, that expresses fear and, therefore, political reasons to want to migrate. But the great majority of the population, especially the middle and lower income levels, state economic reasons for their desire to leave the country.

Fifty-nine percent say they disapprove of the Ortega government and 36% approve of it, but when asked what possibility Ortega has of solving the problems we see that 59% say it is unlikely or not likely at all, and expectations of solutions drop from 36% to 28%.

This is highly correlated with the direction of the country, and people currently have a negative perception of Ortega’s government. Two out of three people are saying: I don't like the work he is doing. This is also highly correlated with the confidence that he can help solve the problems people are experiencing when it comes to the state of the economy. There is little faith in them. 

In the evaluation of public personalities, there are seven political prisoners and among them, six presidential pre-candidates have a better rating than Daniel Ortega and Rosario Murillo. The vice president is the personality with the highest index of negative opinions. 

These indexes reflect the discontent with the current government and at the same time, it shows the good image of the opposition and different leaders. Prior to the presidential elections, people were expecting a change. We observe (this trend) in different countries when citizens perceive that the country is going in the wrong direction. 

Of course, if we are on the wrong path, what does the population want: to look for new options, but at this moment, unfortunately, they are in jail or under house arrest. 

However, the public personality that  appears with a more favorable opinion in this survey is Reina Rueda, a public official, the mayor of Managua. 

Yes, Mrs. Rueda is a person who has been relatively neutral with respect to political issues. She has been present at inaugurations and events with a relatively happy, friendly, welcoming image. While other actors, within the same municipality, are the ones who have been carrying different political burdens.

According to this survey, how is Nicaragua today one year after the electoral farce of November 7, 2021, in which Daniel Ortega proclaimed himself president?

The income of many households is not enough to cover basic needs and, therefore, people are eager to migrate, if they had the opportunity to do so. There is despair regarding the future and the actions of the government, and therefore people are looking for change, but is not in sight at this time.



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Carlos F. Chamorro

Carlos F. Chamorro

Periodista nicaragüense, exiliado en Costa Rica. Fundador y director de Confidencial y Esta Semana. Miembro del Consejo Rector de la Fundación Gabo. Ha sido Knight Fellow en la Universidad de Stanford (1997-1998) y profesor visitante en la Maestría de Periodismo de la Universidad de Berkeley, California (1998-1999). En mayo 2009, obtuvo el Premio a la Libertad de Expresión en Iberoamérica, de Casa América Cataluña (España). En octubre de 2010 recibió el Premio Maria Moors Cabot de la Escuela de Periodismo de la Universidad de Columbia en Nueva York. En 2021 obtuvo el Premio Ortega y Gasset por su trayectoria periodística.