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Ortega Regime Cancels Legal Status of Nicaraguan Scouts Association

Officials of the Masaya mayor's office took over El Coyotepe fortress and surrounding land which had been donated to the Scouts for an educational camp

Iván Olivares

20 de febrero 2024


The regime of Daniel Ortega and Rosario Murillo ordered the closure of eight NGOs, including the Scouts Association of Nicaragua, the Rotary Club of Leon, the University of Health Sciences and Renewable Energy, and several evangelical and Catholic religious organizations.

This brings the number of non-profit organizations closed by the regime since 2018 to 3,230, mostly based on accusations that they did not have their books in order, that they did not have a legal board of directors, or that they had not submitted some report on time. Many of the outlawed organizations argued that the Ministry of the Interior itself refused to receive their documents in order to fabricate an excuse to close them.

The news of the cancellation comes amid Scout Week, a period in which more than 40 million Scouts around the world carry out activities to celebrate the birthday anniversaries of both founders: Robert Baden-Powell, Lord of Gilwell, born February 22, 1857, and his wife, Lady Olave Baden-Powell, born February 22, 1889.

The Scouts were founded in Nicaragua in Bluefields in 1917, when Aubrey Campbell Ingram, then a teenager, met with Moravian pastor Joseph (Joe) Harrison to form a troop that became known as Morava 1. The Scouts movement came to the Pacific region of Nicaragua independently in the 1930s, when a Scouts troop was founded in Granada, from where it spread to the rest of the country.

The Scouts of Nicaragua have organized volunteers to help out in the face of the many natural and political tragedies that have devastated the country during its eleven decades of existence. They helped after the earthquake that destroyed Managua in 1972 and the disasters caused by several hurricanes such as Juana and Mitch. In addition, they have participated in numerous vaccination campaigns (both human and canine), mosquito fumigation, waste collection, and community education, among others.

Aerial view of the El Coyotepe fortress, published in January 2022 by the Masaya branch of the Nicaraguan Institute of Tourism of Masaya // Photo: Intur, Masaya

Regime takes over El Coyotepe, the Scouts Association's educational campground

Active Scout leaders reported anonymously that officials of the Masaya Mayor's Office of Masaya took over the facilities of El Coyotepe –both the historical fortress that crowns the El Coyotepe hill and the campgrounds– as well as some 93 acres of land located on its slopes. In Managua, it was expected that the Managua Mayor's Office would confiscate the national Scouts office as well as the land that in 1984, the then-mayor of Managua, Samuel Santos, gave to the Nicaraguan Scouts for their use for 99 years.

El Coyotepe was donated to the Scouts by President René Schick in 1965. It was confiscated by the Sandinista government in 1983 and then returned to the Scouts by President Violeta Barrios de Chamorro in the first months of her government in 1990. Both the 7th and 20th Central American Scout "Camporee" regional camp gatherings were held on its grounds in 1965 and 2004, respectively.

Asociación Scouts en Nicaragua
Daniel Ortega with the medallion commemorating 100 years of the Scouts Association in Nicaragua // Photo: CCC

The regulations of the Scouts of Nicaragua indicate that the president of the Republic is the honorary president of the Association. Daniel Ortega –who in his youth was in the Scouts, as were many Nicaraguan political, business, and notable leaders– was named honorary president of the Scouts in 2007, the year of the world centennial of Scouting, and in 2017, when the Scouts celebrated a century in Nicaragua.

This article was published in Spanish in Confidencial and translated by our staff. To get the most relevant news from our English coverage delivered straight to your inbox, subscribe to The Dispatch.


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Iván Olivares

Iván Olivares

Periodista nicaragüense, exiliado en Costa Rica. Durante más de veinte años se ha desempeñado en CONFIDENCIAL como periodista de Economía. Antes trabajó en el semanario La Crónica, el diario La Prensa y El Nuevo Diario. Además, ha publicado en el Diario de Hoy, de El Salvador. Ha ganado en dos ocasiones el Premio a la Excelencia en Periodismo Pedro Joaquín Chamorro Cardenal, en Nicaragua.