In the days before Sunday’s meeting of presidents of migrant-exporting countries and those along the route to the United States, convened by Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, 27 flights from Port-au-Prince, the capital of Haiti, arrived in Managua. The unusual flights raised concerns about them carrying migrants heading to the United States. Nicaragua has not confirmed its participation in Sunday’s migration summit.
The arrival of aircraft from Haiti began to gain attention on Friday, October 20, when the schedule of flights operated by the Managua Airport listed 12 flights arriving from Port-au-Prince. This is an unprecedented event, especially considering the severe political and social crisis in Haiti.
The flights from Haiti continued on Saturday, October 21, with the airport website reporting the arrival of 15 more aircraft. These flights were operated by airlines such as Sky High Aviation Services, Sarpa, Sunrise Airways, EuroAtlantic Airways, Air Century, Searca S.A.
These airlines have planes with a capacity ranging from 50 to 220 passengers. Over just two days, between 1,350 and 5,949 people from Haiti could have entered the country.
Ortega accused of involvement in irregular migration for profit
Eight Nicaraguan opposition organizations have accused the Ortega-Murillo regime of facilitating and profiting from irregular migration entering the country en route to the United States.
In a statement titled “The Dictatorship in Nicaragua Profits from Foreign Migrants,” the organizations, part of the Unity for Democracy platform, denounced “the business and human trafficking conducted by the regime with foreign migrants and its expulsion policies towards nationals.”
They argued that Ortega “has already turned facilitating Cuban migration into a business, creating mechanisms for hundreds of Cubans to arrive in Nicaragua daily by air, paying exorbitant prices for their plane tickets. This is a profitable business for both the Cuban and Nicaraguan regimes.”
“These Cubans later migrate to other countries in the region, becoming a human stream of migrants of that nationality,” they added.
Since Nicaragua announced in November 2021 that Cubans no longer need visas to enter the country, there has been a growing interest in using Nicaragua as a starting point for migrating to the United States.
In 2022, US authorities recorded the entry of approximately 313,000 Cubans at their southern border. Additionally, tens of thousands more headed to Mexico, Spain, or South America. In 2022 alone, Cuba lost about 4% of its population.
Forced Migration of Nicaraguans
The organizations also denounced that Ortega “has turned the forced migration of thousands of Nicaraguans into a mechanism to generate foreign currency and maintain the macroeconomic stability of his regime through family remittances, showing a complete disregard for human life and the stability of Nicaraguan families.
Nicaraguan migrants, who make up 10% of the country’s population, are responsible for sustaining 20% of the country’s economy, according to the study “Growth without Development” by the Transdisciplinary Studies Center of Central America (Cetcam), presented recently in San Jose, Costa Rica.
The country received a record US $3.22 billion in remittances in 2022, a 50.2% increase from the previous year. The amount represents 20.6% of the gross domestic product (GDP), according to data from the Central Bank of Nicaragua. It is projected to surpass $4 billion.
The opposition organizations expressed their view that the Nicaraguan government’s non-participation in the regional migration summit this Sunday in Mexico, “is yet another demonstration of the regime’s lack of interest in cooperating on common regional issues.”
“We call on international organizations, particularly the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and the International Organization for Migration (IOM), to monitor and publicly report on this human trafficking situation in Nicaragua,” urged the organizations.