“This is to inform all our fellow citizens that the Consulate General of the City of Los Angeles ceases to operate as of today, January 19, 2024.” The announcement, placed on a sheet of paper on the door of the building where the Nicaraguan Consulate operates in Los Angeles, United States, is part of Program to close the Consulate was launched Daniel Ortega’s reign In cities with high concentrations of Nicaraguan immigrants.
So far, at least five consulates in the United States have been closed in the past month, in the cities of Los Angeles (California), Houston (Texas), and New Orleans (Louisiana); in Tapachula, Mexico; and the Consulate General of Guatemala.
The Consulate in San Francisco (California), without officially closing, has ceased to serve the public and refers those who request it to direct their efforts to the Nicaraguan Consulate in Washington.
Nicaraguan consulates in New York, Miami, and Washington currently operate in the United States. “I think the idea is to leave the Washington Consulate alone.”They say arturo mcfieldsJoe was the Daniel Ortega regime’s ambassador to the OAS until March 2022, when he resigned midway through a session of the body and condemned the Sandinista dictatorship.
For the Macfields, the process of Ortega closing the consulates is for three reasons: Securityexercising greater control over services provided to Nicaraguans abroad; political revenge“Because Ortega knows that the majority of Nicaraguans abroad oppose him; and economyTo save cost.
“The first scenario is the most obvious, a political revenge, a punishment for Nicaraguans living abroad, a kind of retribution because they have left Nicaragua and many of us who have left Nicaragua do not support the regime and They do. “They know,” explains the former ambassador.
“The second intention is security. Having fewer consulates means more control. The strategy indicates that at the end of the day it will only retain the Washington Consulate. Because Because there are ambassadors. The embassy is under full control of one family,” he added.
As of last Wednesday, Nicaragua’s ambassador to Washington was francis campbell hookerWhose wife, mary hooker, is consul in the North American capital; and his daughter, Mabel Leilani Campbell Hooker, is a press attache. Another son, michael rené campbell hookerAmbassador of Nicaragua to China since May 2023.
McFields says another purpose for closing the consulates is to reduce budgets. According to his calculations, a minimum of three people at a consulate in the United States can cost about 30 thousand dollars per month, including salaries, real estate rent, medical insurance and other expenses: “But most of the consulates “Between ten to eight people, except the one in Washington, because it operates out of the same embassy, it has only two officials.”
“With the closure of Nicaraguan consulates ordered by the Ortega-Murillo dictatorship, Thousands of Nicaraguans left homeless who have forcibly left the country, and need to take steps to organize their lives abroad,” lamented the exiled opposition group Partido Humanista Social Cristiano de Nicaragua in a statement.
“Ortega and his wife have committed very serious violations of international law and humanitarian law.”, by refusing to pay attention to the efforts that compatriots abroad need to make for their general civic development. We also see political revenge in this,” adds the article spread on social networks.
Harold RochaAn expert in international law says it is “difficult to speculate” about the reasons for Nicaragua’s consulate closure, as there has been no official communication on the subject so far.
“The photos we’ve seen in the press on the doors of consular offices point to other consular offices in the receiving country, but they don’t make anything else clear,” says Rocha. “The (Vienna) Convention sets out a procedure before the temporary or permanent closure of a consular headquarters, the change of personnel, including their departure, and the change of constituency. “We will have to wait to see the official statement to know the totality of the circumstances that led to this decision.”
“This could be interpreted to mean that the Consulates are still closed, There will be a direct impact on Nicaragua’s immigrant community.Because consulates are important, especially for people who are in precarious situations or in immigration detention processes,” he says.
And he explains: “The work of the Consulate is focused on attention and support to natural and legal persons who hold their nationality. Provides protection and assistance to its citizens; issues passports, travel documents, other official documents, whether identification or otherwise, as well as visas to foreign nationals that require them to enter Nicaragua; They perform notarial work; “They look after the interests of minors living in their constituency, as well as the interests of the legacies of those who have died.”
Consider, however, that it is likely that Nicaraguans living in constituencies with closed consulates will be able to complete procedures online or by mail as during the pandemic.
About one million Nicaraguans live in the United States, half of them coming in the last four years. According to state census bureaus, the states with the largest populations of Nicaraguans are Florida, California, and Texas.
In 1980, Nicaragua was left without consulates in the United States when then-President Ronald Reagan expelled 21 Nicaraguan diplomatic officials in retaliation for the expulsion of three American officials ordered by the Sandinista government.
Arturo Macfields believes that, more than savings, the closure of the consulates is due to budget reallocation in the foreign relations strategy promoted by the regime of Daniel Ortega, because At the same time that consulates are closed, embassies are opened in remote countries where there is no Nicaraguan community.
This Tuesday Rosario Murillo, Vice President of Nicaragua and wife of Daniel Ortega, announced Inauguration of the Nicaraguan Embassy in Zimbabwe. Previously, embassies were opened in Ethiopia, Sahrawi Arab Republic, Burkina Faso and North Korea, among others.
“Reopening an embassy, as they are doing, involves an investment of at least $350,000 per year,” McFields estimates.
“These consulate closures are beyond an issue for the United States. That is, we are talking about including other countries like Mexico and Guatemala, but it is also about wanting to cover the costs of opening new embassies. This represents a huge expenditure and the regime is not releasing more budget than what already exists,” he says.
“The basic reason for the existence of consulates is the protection of migrants.”, whereas for an embassy it is business, political relations and investment. Consulates are the human face of governments abroad,” explains the former ambassador, who believes that the Ortega regime, which benefits greatly from the money sent by migrants, “should give them minimal support in return.”