The Department of State alerts U.S. citizens about increased government scrutiny of foreigners’ activities, new requirements for volunteer groups, and the potential for demonstrations during the upcoming election season in Nicaragua.

This Travel Alert expires on November 30, 2016.

Nicaragua is conducting Presidential and National Assembly elections on November 6, 2016. During the period leading up to and immediately following elections, U.S. citizens in Nicaragua should be aware of heightened sensitivity by Nicaraguan officials to certain subjects or activities, including:

  • elections,
  • the proposed inter-oceanic canal,
  • volunteer or charitable visits,
  • topics deemed sensitive by or critical of the government.

Nicaraguan authorities have denied entry to, detained, questioned, or expelled foreigners, including U.S. government officials, academics, NGO workers, and journalists, for discussions, written reports or articles, photographs, and/or videos related to these topics. Authorities may monitor and question private U.S. citizens concerning their activities, including contact with Nicaraguan citizens. This situation may persist in the post-election period.

The Government of Nicaragua has indicated it is worried about the safety and security of travelers. The government began requiring special notification for official U.S. travelers holding diplomatic or official passports. Additionally, Nicaraguan authorities now require advance coordination for any volunteer group, charitable or medical brigade, or any other assistance visit organized by NGOs, religious groups, schools, or any other group doing this type of work in Nicaragua, regardless of whether the group has worked in Nicaragua previously or has a local office. To coordinate visits from the United States contact the Embassy of Nicaragua in Washington, DC.  To coordinate visits from Nicaragua, contact the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MINREX). 

During previous election cycles, violent demonstrations occurred involving tear gas, fireworks, rock-throwing, road blocks, burning of vehicles and tires, as well as physical altercations between law enforcement and protestors or rival political parties/individuals. Activities tend to intensify in violence beginning in the early afternoon. Stay current with media coverage of local events and be aware of your surroundings at all times.

Even demonstrations intended to be peaceful can turn confrontational and escalate into violence. Avoid demonstrations and exercise caution around large gatherings near government buildings and major intersections or roundabouts.

For further information:

  • See the State Department’s travel website for the Worldwide Caution, Travel Warnings, Travel Alerts, and Country Specific Information for Nicaragua.
  • Enroll in the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) to receive security messages and make it easier to locate you in an emergency.
  • Contact the U.S. Embassy in Nicaragua, located at Km 5 ½ C. Sur Managua, Nicaragua at +(505) 2252-7100, 7:30 a.m. to 4:15 p.m. Monday through Friday. The American Citizen Services unit is also available by email during regular business hours at ACS.Managua@state.gov. For after-hours emergencies, call the same number and ask for the Embassy Duty Officer.
  • Call 1-888-407-4747 toll-free in the United States and Canada or 1-202-501-4444 from other countries from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Eastern Standard Time, Monday through Friday (except U.S. federal holidays).
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