Nicaragua Travel Warning
Issued by U.S. Department of State
Apr 03, 2019
Reconsider travel to Nicaragua due to civil unrest, crime, limited healthcare availability, and arbitrary enforcement of laws.
On September 12, 2018, the U.S. Department of State lifted the ordered departure of non-emergency U.S. government personnel and family members. The U.S. Embassy in Managua is open to the public and provides the full range of consular services.
Throughout Nicaragua, armed and violent uniformed police or civilians in plain clothes acting as police (“para-police”) continue to target anyone considered to be in opposition to the rule of President Ortega. The government and its affiliated armed groups have been reported to:
- Arbitrarily detain pro-democracy protestors, with credible claims of torture and disappearances.
- Systematically target opposition figures, including clergy, human rights advocates, and members of the press.
- Prevent certain individuals from departing Nicaragua by air or land.
- Seize private property.
- Arbitrarily search personal phones and computers for anti-government content.
- Arbitrarily detain certain individuals with unfounded charges of terrorism, money laundering, and organized crime.
These police and para-police groups often cover their faces, sometimes operate in groups numbering in the hundreds, and use unmarked vehicles.
Rallies and demonstrations in opposition to the rule of President Ortega have been declared unlawful, but nevertheless occur. Government forces, uniformed police, and para-police have attacked peaceful demonstrators leading to significant numbers of arrests, injuries, and deaths. Looting, vandalism, and arson often occur during unrest.
Road blocks, including in Managua and other major cities, may appear and limit availability of food and fuel.
Government hospitals are understaffed and may deny treatment to suspected protestors. Some hospitals throughout the country may not be able to assist in emergencies. Ambulances have reportedly refused to respond or have been denied access to areas with individuals needing emergency care.
Violent crime, such as sexual assault and armed robbery, is common.
Civil unrest and poor infrastructure in parts of the country limit the Embassy’s ability to assist U.S. citizens in emergencies. U.S. government personnel must avoid demonstrations and require special permission to travel beyond a three-hour drive from Managua. Additional restrictions on movements by U.S. government personnel may be put in place at any time, depending on local circumstances and security conditions, which can change suddenly.
Read the Safety and Security section on the country information page.
If you decide to travel to Nicaragua:
- Consider arrangements to depart the country quickly.
- Ensure your U.S. passport is valid and available for a quick departure from the country, if needed.
- Avoid demonstrations and restrict unnecessary travel.
- Do not attempt to drive through crowds, barricades, or road blocks.
- Maintain adequate supplies of food, cash, potable water, and fuel in case you need to shelter in place.
- Use caution when walking or driving at night.
- Keep a low profile.
- Do not display signs of wealth such as expensive watches or jewelry.
- Be aware of your surroundings.
- Visit our website for Travel to High-Risk Areas.
- Enroll in the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) to receive Alerts and make it easier to locate you in an emergency.
- Follow the Department of State on Facebook and Twitter.
- Review the Crime and Safety Report for Nicaragua.
- U.S. citizens who travel abroad should always have a contingency plan for emergency situations, and review the Traveler’s Checklist.
Last Update: Reissued after periodic review without substantive changes.