Canada says it cut off aid to Nicaragua last year over rights violations

Nicaraguan riot police officers with two people arrested Nicaraguan riot police officers with two people arrested; Canada says it suspended foreign aid to the troubled Central American country last year. (AFP/Maynor Valenzuela)

MONTREAL: The Canadian government said on Sunday (Apr 14) it suspended financial aid to Nicaragua last year in response to human rights violations – a decision not publicly disclosed until now.

A foreign ministry spokeswoman, Britanny Fletcher, confirmed the cut-off after the CBC, citing a secret memorandum, reported the aid was halted at the end of August, 2018.

It came amid a crackdown on anti-government protests, but was kept quiet to give President Daniel Ortega room to reverse course without seeming to be yielding to outside pressure, according to the CBC.

“Our government is concerned by the deteriorating human rights situation and economic downturn in Nicaragua. In light of these concerns, we made the decision to suspend direct financial assistance to the Nicaraguan government last summer,” Fletcher said.

“President Ortega’s repressive actions against his people are unacceptable. We continue to consider all diplomatic and policy options at our disposal in order to support the Nicaraguan people.”

She said Canada still provides support for NGOs and international organizations with projects in Nicaragua “with a focus on help for the most vulnerable.”

Canada was one of five top donors of bilateral aid to Nicaragua, providing some US$20 million in aid a year over all, according to the memorandum cited by the CBC.