Country close-up: Nicaragua on the Global Peace Index

The Central American country of around six million shows the largest deterioration in the global peace rankings.

Global Peace Index rank: 120 out of 163
Change in rank: down 54 places

More than a year after the government cracked down on street protests, Nicaragua has plummeted 54 rankings on the Global Peace Index – the biggest deterioration out of the list’s 163 countries.

Ongoing political turmoil beginning in April 2018 sparked the Central American country’s decline in peacefulness when state security forces and para-police violently suppressed protests against a pension system reform, driving up the political instability and intensity of internal conflict indicators on the index.

The protest movement expanded into broader demonstrations against Daniel Ortega’s presidency and demands for far-reaching political reforms, including early elections.

An increasing presence of government-aligned para-police and paramilitary forces has developed since the onset of the political crisis. Pro-government forces have continued to violently suppress demonstrations, resulting in over 325 deaths and more than 700 people taken as political prisoners. This has driven the negative perceptions of criminality indicator from high to very high.

The relations with neighbouring countries indicator also deteriorated last year. The international community has criticised the government’s repressive response to the crisis, while the US has imposed sanctions on Nicaraguans accused of committing human rights abuses or acts of corruption.

According to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, an estimated 62,000 people have fled Nicaragua, with around 55,000 seeking refuge in neighbouring Costa Rica. Others are travelling as far as Mexico or the United States to avoid human rights violations.