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Ortega "Offers" Managua's Airport as a Key Stopover for Haitian Migrants Heading to the US

Researcher Manuel Orozco reveals that the regime charges about 200 dollars to each Haitian passenger and other revenues for the use of the air terminal

Managua International Airport

The entrance to the Managua International Airport. Photo: El 19 Digita.

25 de octubre 2023

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Nicaraguan political scientist and consultant Manuel Orozco, director of the Migration, Remittances and Development program of the Inter-American Dialogue, said Monday that the government presided over by Daniel Ortega in Nicaragua is offering Managua's international airport "as a bridge" to Haitian migrants en route to the United States.

"Ortega is selling the Managua airport as a bridge to Haitians en route to the United States: 60% of Haitians going to the U.S. pass through Managua," said Orozco, a researcher at the Inter-American Dialogue, a Washington-based political analysis and exchange center.


To support his thesis, the Nicaraguan consultant argued that between August and so far in October 2023, Managua's Augusto C. Sandino International Airport has received 268 flights from Port-au-Prince, despite the fact that there is no officially open route between the two countries.

In August, 30 flights were registered between Port-au-Prince and Managua, 100 in September, and 138 so far in October, he detailed.

In those 268 flights 31,475 passengers have arrived and in the same period 54,671 Haitians have entered through the U.S.-Mexico border, which means that 57.8% of them started their route in Managua, according to the consultant.

More than 200 dollars per Haitian citizen


Orozco explained that these figures have different interpretations, one of them being that the Ortega government is a "rentier and kleptocratic state, and in its perversity it seeks money in every way".

"It is offering the country (Nicaragua) as a bridge between Haiti and the United States, which is convenient, because it is less risky, although more expensive to go directly to Managua," he noted.

He also pointed out an "opportunism" of the Sandinista Government because, according to the information he has, the Nicaraguan Executive charges about 200 dollars to each passenger, plus other revenues for the use of the airport.

In other words, the Nicaraguan Government has received at least 6.3 million dollars, since August 2023, for hosting in its air terminal the flights loaded with passengers coming from Port-au-Prince.

Nicaragua, used as a "springboard"


The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development revealed that asylum claims in OECD countries soared in 2022, 91%, compared to 2021, to a record 2 091 385 people. Such an increase is explained, above all, by a massive influx of Latin American refugees to the United States, mainly Cubans, who use Nicaragua as a "springboard" to reach U.S. territory.

The 730 400 asylum claims received by the United States in 2022 not only almost quadruple the 188 860 in 2021, and are 2.4 times higher than those of 2019, but practically add up to those of the next five countries combined.

More than 40% of the applications formalized in the United States were made by Cubans (157 000) and Venezuelans (139 000), whose number in one year increased twelvefold in the case of the former and fivefold in the case of the latter.

Cuban arrivals were the highest in decades and many of them reached US territory after having passed through Nicaragua, where since 2021 there is no longer a visa requirement for citizens of the Caribbean island.

Does Ortega want to negotiate sanctions with the US?


Nicaragua's former ambassador to the Organization of American States (OAS) Arturo McFields considered that Ortega's government, to which he belonged until March 2022, seeks to use migration to get the United States to lift sanctions on high-ranking Nicaraguan officials punished for human rights violations and undermine democracy in his country.

"Daniel Ortega's dictatorship wants to use migration to negotiate sanctions with the United States. Nicaragua promotes free passage to migrants from Cuba, Haiti, Venezuela and Africa. By sea, air and land. Migration for him is not a problem, (rather) it is a golden opportunity," wrote McFields in his account on the social network X (formerly Twitter).

According to the diplomat and journalist, Ortega "is betting on a direct negotiation with the United States, because he knows that this issue is very delicate and important" for the North American country.

Managua's international airport has received 36 commercial flights loaded with passengers from Port-au-Prince in the last 72 hours, according to the local media which cites the official schedule on the arrival of flights published by Nicaragua's state-owned Empresa Administradora de Aeropuertos Internacionales (EAAI).

According to the diplomat and journalist, Ortega "is betting on a direct negotiation with the United States, because he knows that this issue is very delicate and important" for the North American country.

Managua's international airport has received 36 commercial flights loaded with passengers from Port-au-Prince in the last 72 hours, according to the local press, which cites the official schedule on the arrival of flights published by Nicaragua's state-owned Empresa Administradora de Aeropuertos Internacionales (EAAI).

The airlines in charge of commercial flights from Haiti to Nicaragua are AirCentury, Atlantic, Magni, Sarpa Searca, Sky High, and Sunrise. They do so without this route officially existing.

Nicaraguan authorities have not announced whether they have opened a new air route between Port-au-Prince and Managua.

Eight Nicaraguan opposition organizations on Saturday accused the Ortega government of facilitating and "doing business" with irregular migration arriving to the Central American country on their way to the US.

*With information from EFE.

This article was originally published in Spanish in Confidencial and translated by our staff.

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Confidencial es un diario digital nicaragüense, de formato multimedia, fundado por Carlos F. Chamorro en junio de 1996. Inició como un semanario impreso y hoy es un medio de referencia regional con información, análisis, entrevistas, perfiles, reportajes e investigaciones sobre Nicaragua, informando desde el exilio por la persecución política de la dictadura de Daniel Ortega y Rosario Murillo.

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