The following information reports U.S. Government priorities and activities of the U.S. mission in Nicaragua to promote democracy and human rights. For background on Nicaragua's human rights conditions, please see the 2009 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices
and the International Religious Freedom Reports
Part 1: U.S. Government Democracy Objectives
In developing strategic priorities to support human rights and democratic principles, U.S. officials consult and work closely with government institutions, political parties, NGOs, labor unions, and other civil society organizations to encourage reforms and promote respect for human rights and democracy. The U.S. Government uses diplomatic engagement, public outreach, foreign assistance, and related activities to advance its human rights and democracy promotion objectives.
The United States' principal strategic priorities are helping the country's citizens preserve democratic processes and practices, including strengthening democratic groups working to achieve a free, fair, and transparent electoral system, and promoting respect for human rights, including worker rights, and fundamental freedoms. U.S. assistance is supporting important democratic processes and practices that promote rule of law, democratic political parties, transparent elections, an open civil society, media freedom and an independent judiciary. The United States supports civil society advocacy for transparent and just governance, and efforts to improve local governance through greater community engagement in municipal decision-making. These priorities reflect the needs of civil society, which remains concerned about restrictions on democratic freedoms and civil rights.
Part 2: Supporting Top Priorities and Other Aspects of Human Rights and Democratic Governance
To support a free, fair, and transparent electoral system, in 2009 the U.S. Government provided small grants to 14 civil society groups and eight media outlets for projects focusing on citizen participation in January municipal elections and promoting pluralistic citizen participation. Grants to media included broadcasting equipment and training for hundreds of journalists on improving the quality and content of their news coverage and accessing public information. The United States, through implementing partners, offered elections reporting workshops for journalists, supported local election observers, facilitated municipal candidate debates led by local civic groups, promoted campaign finance reform, and provided technical assistance to political parties.
To support the continued functioning of democratic processes, the United States is strengthening NGO capacity to monitor government spending and operations; encouraging public awareness and greater civic participation in public decision-making; training and providing other support to strengthen media capacity to promote accountability and expose corruption; working with legislators to depoliticize the judiciary and electoral tribunal; and training and fostering dialogue among current and emerging democratic political leaders. U.S. assistance promotes municipal development committees and NGOs throughout the country. The U.S. Government is providing financial and technical capacity building assistance to civil society organizations that have formed advocacy coalitions for respecting the rule of law and government accountability. U.S. foreign assistance is focusing on legislators, civil society, and election experts to promote meaningful electoral and political reform with the aim of increasing public confidence in government institutions and democratic processes.
The U.S. Ambassador continues his public diplomacy efforts through delivering speeches, giving media interviews, authoring newspaper articles, and participating in public events to highlight the United States' commitment to democracy and human rights and underscore civil society's fundamental role in a democracy. U.S. officials also make presentations on democratic governance to universities, business associations, and other civil society groups. The United States continues to provide speakers who discuss strengthening and developing media professionalism and democracy. These efforts have included experts who discussed new media and social networking tools in promoting democracy and the significance of the 20-year anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall. Through U.S.-funded exchange programs, citizens, including youth and new mayors, visit the United States to learn about civil society, community engagement, grassroots democracy, and youth participation in democratic processes
U.S. assistance programs to combat trafficking in persons include funding to support prevention, prosecution, and victims' assistance to both government institutions and civil society. To promote the elimination of the worst forms of child labor on coffee plantations, U.S. assistance continues to fund projects in the northern part of the country that seeks to withdraw and/or prevent 10,000 children from exploitive child labor by providing alternative educational and training opportunities and by promoting corporate social responsibility. The U.S. Government supports respect for labor rights through programs to improve the quality of government inspections, train law students in labor law jurisprudence, operate worker rights information and assistance centers, strengthen the capacity of worker organizations, and cultivate a culture of compliance with labor laws.