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US Warns Airlines and Travel Agents About Irregular Migration from Managua

US authorities lament the implementation of “permissive migration policies” by the Ortega-Murillo regime.

Migrants from Haiti upon their arrival at Augusto C. Sandino International Airport in Managua. | Photo: Confidencial

Redacción Confidencial

20 de mayo 2024


The Departments of State, Homeland Security, and the Treasury issued a joint alert to notify airlines, flight operators, travel agents, and service providers about “the ways in which migrant smuggling and human trafficking networks are exploiting legitimate transportation services to facilitate irregular migration to the United States,” particularly via Nicaragua.

“Migrants are increasingly using Managua as a landing point to continue their journey north by land,” they warn.

They also note that the United States has shared “intelligence information” with aviation entities “highlighting this trend and underscoring the need for stricter enforcement of airline policies regarding flights in and out of Managua.”

In the statement, they express that “the actions of the Nicaraguan Government are of great concern,” as President Daniel Ortega and Vice President Rosario Murillo “have implemented permissive migration policies by design, creating opportunities for smuggling and trafficking networks to exploit migrants for profit.”

US authorities emphasized that the irregular migration exposes migrants, as well as service providers, to “greater security, economic, reputational, financial, logistical, and legal risks.” Despite the exploitation and risks involved migrants from many countries prefer to begin their land journey to the USA from Nicaragua than using the highly dangerous path crossing the Darien Gap between Colombia and Panama, if they come from further south.

Visa Restrictions Imposed on Over 250 Officials

The Department of State reported on May 15 that it imposed visa restrictions on more than 250 members of the Nicaraguan Government, including police officers, paramilitary personnel, prison officials, prosecutors, judges, and higher education public officials, as well as certain non-governmental persons.

These individuals were included in this restriction “for their roles in supporting the Ortega-Murillo regime’s attacks on human rights and fundamental freedoms, the repression of civil society organizations, and their exploitation of vulnerable migrants.”

Recommendations to Alert

The joint alert includes recommendations for monitoring high-risk routes used by migrants and illicit smuggling networks, as well as reporting “companies that raise concerns.”

They call for reporting “known or suspected travel agencies involved in activities supporting irregular migration and illicit migrant smuggling or human trafficking networks to the United States.”

On March 11, 2024, the US State Department took measures to “impose visa restrictions on executives of charter flight companies” that facilitate irregular migration to the United States with flights to Nicaragua.

“These measures are in response to the growing trend of charter airlines offering flights to Nicaragua primarily for irregular migrants,” the entity explained.

This institution had warned of a “growing trend” of charter flight companies “offering flights (and charging exorbitant prices) that place migrants on a dangerous overland journey north to the US border.”

According to US authorities, Cuban and Haitian migrants use charter flights to Nicaragua to embark on an overland journey to the US-Mexico border.

The measure restricted visas for operators of air, land, and sea transportation who facilitate migrant flights to Nicaragua.

This new policy expanded and replaced the ‘Nicaragua 3C’ plan issued in November 2023 in response to the “growing trend” by charter flight companies offering flights “charging extortionate prices” to the Central American country, the State Department noted.

The Business of Migrant Transport

At the end of October last year, CONFIDENCIAL reported that in a period of three days, 36 commercial flights landed in Managua loaded with passengers from Port-au-Prince, Haiti.

Analyst Manuel Orozco stated in an interview with Esta Semana that Nicaragua, through Civil Aeronautics, and solely with charter flights, “facilitated the transport of at least 100,000 people, of whom two-thirds are Cubans and Haitians and one-third are people coming from other countries. They are called extra-continentals, mainly people from Asia and some from the African continent.”

A CONFIDENCIAL report revealed in early November that the Ortega regime, between January and October 2023, had received about $65.9 million from fines on migrants crossing Nicaragua en route to the United States, according to an estimate based on the number of irregular migrants reported by Honduras at its four border stations with Nicaragua.

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


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Redacción Confidencial

Redacción Confidencial

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.