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Managua, Nicaragua - September 1

Executive Director, Cathleen Caron, arrived in Nicaragua at the end of August to expand Global Workers’ operations to Nicaragua, El Salvador, and Honduras.  Based out of Managua, Nicaragua’s capital city, she will travel extensively in the region over the next six months to learn about the dynamics of international migration and identify organizations that want to work with us to defend the rights of transnational workers.  

International migration from Nicaragua is quite distinct from other countries in the region.  Most migrants go south to Costa Rica, considered the wealthiest and safest country in Central America.  It is estimated that up to 500,000 Nicaraguans live in Costa Rica without any legal residency.  In light of considerable political pressure over many years, Costa Rica is regularizing Nicaraguans so they can remain in the country and integrate fully into Costa Rican society.  In addition to the year-round Nicaraguan residents, another 150,000 farmworkers migrate temporarily for the harvest.  Despite a recent agreement between Costa Rica and Nicaragua, which governs about 2,000 migrants temporarily working in Costa Rica, the vast majority cross the border with no documents whatsoever to work during the harvests. 
 
The U.S. is the second country of destination for Nicaragua migrants. Though the H-2 temporary worker visa program has been operating here for more than ten years, no one seems to be aware of it, including the government.  It is unclear whether the Canada program is also recruiting Nicaraguans, though we have anecdotal information about beekeepers going from the states of Chinandega and Boaco.
 
Nicaragua’s civil society is highly developed. It seems that for every issue there is an organization or at least a group of neighbors addressing it.  In this setting, there are ample organizations to vet for our network. The situation is somewhat complicated, however, by the political parties attempting to crush independent voices by discrediting them or becoming their financial supporters to exert control over the organizations’ actions. This has resulted in much antagonism between groups. Each country has its challenges that require careful and strategic navigation to launch a solid network of organizations to assist migrant workers exploited abroad.

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