Q24N – Seven months ago he came from the municipality of Tipitapa, Managua, Nicaragua. Today he works as a security guard in San José and every month he sends money to his home country for his 15-year-old son and the grandparents who take care of him.
This is the story of Francisco, one of the thousands of Nicaraguans in Costa Rica who each month send an average of between US$110 and US$120 to their families.
Since the sociopolitical crisis in Nicaragua in 2018, which was followed by violent repression of protests, persecution and imprisonment of opponents, and the progressive breach of the rule of law, remittances sent by Nicaraguans living in Costa Rica to their country of origin increased by 22.8%.
Remittances to Nicaragua have gradually increased since then, going from US$263 million in 2017 to US$323 million in 2022, according to data provided by the Banco Central de Costa Rica (BCCR) – Central Bank of Costa Rica (BCCR).
The numbers show that while remittances were down slightly in the first year of the pandemic, they picked up last year. In 2017, Nicaragua received US$263 million from our country; in 2019 US$294 million were sent; and in the first year of the pandemic, that figure dropped to US$271 million. However, in 2021 it increased to US$300 million and in 2022 to US$323 million.
For Gustavo Gatica López, a researcher at the Center for Research in Culture and Development (CICDE) of the Universidad Estatal a Distancia (UNED), “it is very clear that the increase in remittances has to do with the exodus that began in April 2018 and that happens, not only with the remittances that arrive from Costa Rica but with those from the United States”.
The Nicaraguan economist Enrique Sáenz told Semanario Universidad that it is foreseeable that the pandemic has had an impact on the decrease registered in the years 2020 and 2021, and that the rebound is due to “the increase in forced displacements due to the deterioration of economic and social conditions and because of the climate of oppression that exists”.
According to Sáenz, it is estimated that almost 10% of the population has left Nicaragua in less than three years, most of it to the United States; but also a significant percentage to Costa Rica.
Ortega exports unemployment and low wages, and receives remittances; he exports social unrest and receives mitigation for the deficiencies of families. He exports political nonconformity and contains internal claims. Nicaraguan economist Enrique Sáenz
Nicaragua: A country that survives on remittances
According to figures from the Central Bank of Nicaragua (BCN), in 2022, income from family remittances reached a total of US$3.22 billion and is forecast to increase to US$5 nillion in 2023, reports a recent publication by Diálogo Interamericano.
However, Nicaraguans continue to live with the income levels of 2017, points out the publication “Indicators on the Nicaraguan economic situation in 2023: Dependency factors and pressure options”.
It is projected that economic dependence on remittances will exceed 30% of Nicaragua’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and one million households will receive money this year.
Gatica affirmed that there is “a perverse policy of the regime”, which is promoting internal persecution, which leads to a forced displacement of Nicaraguans, and “as a counterpart, Nicaraguan households benefit from remittances.”
“The dictatorship is benefiting from this income. On the one hand, the regime is forcibly removing thousands of people; but, in macroeconomic terms, the remittances that they eventually send allow the Government stability in the balance of payments, help its reserves and are a lifeline, in the face of the limited resources that enter by attracting direct investment. In addition, at the micro level, households also benefit from their consumption,” highlighted Gatica.
“Bleeding that turns into dollars”
In Nicaragua, Francisco —who asked to remain anonymous— worked as a security guard at the Ministry of Education (Mined).
The man said that he decided to come to Costa Rica “because the economic situation is upside down. There is work, but (the salary) is too low to survive,” he said.
Francisco earned US$320 a month in Nicaragua; however, he affirmed that the Government began reducing it, until he ended up earning US$140 a month. In Costa Rica he earns a biweekly payment of ¢120,000, which means approximately US$446 a month.
“A strategy came from the same government, that those of us who worked for Government had to give the Government a monthly contribution, help so that the government could help itself at the same time,” Francisco said.
Sáenz agreed that “Ortega’s most successful economic and social policy is to force the displacement of Nicaraguans abroad because that hemorrhage in a few months is transformed into dollars.”
“That is transformed into economic activity, because that money is directed to consumption, to the foreign currency reserves of the Central Bank, to the increase in tax revenues, to decongest the labor market, to improve the possibilities that families face their hardships due to unemployment and the high cost of living. And also in strictly political terms, since remittances, by decongesting the labor market, also mitigate social and political unrest,” the economist highlighted.
“Ortega exports unemployment and low wages, and receives remittances; he exports social unrest and receives mitigation for the deficiencies of families. He exports political nonconformity and contains internal claims,” denounced Sáenz.
According to data from Costa Rica’s immigration service, the Dirección General de Migración y Extranjería (DGME), in 2017 there were 339,495 Nicaraguans living in the country and in 2021 there were 384,894.
Likewise, in the last five years, the number of refugee applicants has increased significantly. It went from 23,138 refugee applications in 2018 to 239,653 by December 2022, of which 217,125 are Nicaraguans, according to figures from the DGME.
Read the original article(in Spanish) at SemnarioUniversidad.com