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Nicaragua and the election of Donald Trump

News from Nicaragua | Thursday, 24 November 2016 | Click here for original article

Chuck Kaufman of the Alliance for Global Justice explains the vulnerabilities of Nicaragua under the Trump presidency.

The newspaper El Nuevo Diario interviewed documented Nicaraguans in the United States a few days after the US presidential election was won by Donald Trump. As one would expect, given the number of Somocistas who settled in Miami after the Triumph of the Sandinista Revolution, what they found was a mixed bag.

Some voted for Trump and others couldn’t believe that any immigrant would vote for Trump. I thought 28 year-old Jennifer Quiroz from New Jersey captured the sentiments of not just Nicaraguans but most people of color in the US. She said, “I really believe that Mr. Trump is not the problem. The problem is the hatred and racism he has sown among people called white. That hatred does not depend on whether or not we are documented. That hatred and violence toward the different cultures and ethnic groups that live here will increase in this country.”

Nicaraguan Presidential economic advisor, Bayardo Arce, said during an economic conference that the Government of Nicaragua has “decided to wait for the development of North American policy.” He declared, “Donald Trump was the winner and the foreign policy of the United States is not yet defined.”

Two of Nicaragua’s vulnerabilities are hostile legislation like the NICA Act which passed only the House of Representatives a few months ago, but might have a better chance of passing the Senate and being signed into law with Trump in the Oval Office. Arce described the NICA Act as a law that “aims to affect US aid and lending.”

Another vulnerability is remittances. The Nicaraguan Central Bank projects US$1.1 billion in remittances from Nicaraguans living abroad to families at home. The first nine months of 2016 saw a 5.4% increase over the same period in 2015. The US leads in countries from which Nicaraguans send home some of their earnings followed by Costa Rica, Spain, Panama, El Salvador, and Canada. Trump has threatened to disrupt remittances from undocumented US residents (not to mention deport them all!) and a fall in remittances would be an economic blow to Nicaragua’s economy.

I couldn’t find a breakdown of documented vs. undocumented Nicaraguans in the US. Since during the 1980s Nicaraguans were almost as privileged as Cubans for entry into the US and a fast track to citizenship, I suspect there is a lower percentage of undocumented Nicaraguans resident in the US than from neighboring countries. On Nov. 18, El Nuevo Diario reported that 498 Nicaraguans have been deported so far in 2016 from the US. That is about 2/3rd the number of deportations last year and pales in comparison to the 31,000 Guatemalans deported so far in 2016.

This article first appeared on the Nicanotes website of the Alliance for Global Justice