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U.S. Department of State

Diplomacy in Action

U.S. Relations With Nicaragua


Bureau of Western Hemisphere Affairs
Fact Sheet
March 24, 2014

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More information about Nicaragua is available on the Nicaragua Page and from other Department of State publications and other sources listed at the end of this fact sheet.

U.S.-NICARAGUA RELATIONS

The United States established diplomatic relations with Nicaragua in 1849 following its independence from Spain and the later dissolution of a federation of Central American states. Post-independence, the country saw a mix of armed conflict, U.S. military intervention and occupation, rebellion, assassination, and dictatorships. Diplomatic relations between the two countries were severed or interrupted a number of times. Nicaragua's 1990 presidential elections marked an improvement in bilateral relations and were followed by elections in 1996, 2001, 2006.

The 2011 presidential and legislative elections and 2012 municipal elections were marred by significant irregularities and were denounced by domestic and international observers as severely flawed. The U.S. Government has clearly stated that these elections marked a setback to democracy in Nicaragua and undermined the ability of Nicaraguans to hold their government accountable. The United States has called on the Nicaraguan Government to uphold democratic processes and protect universal human rights, and has said that it will continue to support civil society and promote human rights in Nicaragua.

U.S. Assistance to Nicaragua

U.S. assistance aims to help strengthen Nicaragua’s democracy through training for emerging democratic leaders, increasing civil society engagement, supporting an independent media, and improving local governance. U.S. assistance also seeks to promote economic growth and poverty reduction in part through market-led food security programs in the highly-impoverished north-central region. In under-governed areas of the Caribbean coastal region where drug trafficking and related criminal activity is rising, military-to-military engagement and prevention programs focusing on education and skills development support citizen security. In response to the Nicaraguan government’s continuing failure to account fully for substantial resources made available to it by Venezuela, the State Department did not seek a waiver for Nicaragua in Fiscal Year 2012 of Congressionally mandated restrictions on assistance to the central governments of countries who do not maintain international standards of fiscal transparency. This curtailed FY 2012 security assistance and affected some counternarcotics and development programs that otherwise would have benefitted the central government.

Bilateral Economic Relations

The United States and Nicaragua are parties to the U.S.-Central America-Dominican Republic Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA-DR), which aims to facilitate trade and investment and further regional integration by eliminating tariffs, opening markets, reducing barriers to services, and promoting transparency. CAFTA-DR contains a chapter on investment similar to a bilateral investment treaty with the United States. There are over 125 companies operating in Nicaragua with some relation to a U.S. company, either as wholly or partly-owned subsidiaries, franchisees, or exclusive distributors of U.S. products. The largest are in energy, financial services, textiles/apparel, manufacturing, and fisheries. U.S. exports to Nicaragua include agricultural products, donated relief articles, and machinery. U.S. imports from Nicaragua include apparel, agricultural products, and automobile wire harnesses. The United States works closely with the Nicaraguan government to seek resolution of several hundred claims against it by United States citizens to properties expropriated from them during the 1980s.

Nicaragua's Membership in International Organizations

Nicaragua and the United States belong to a number of the same international organizations, including the United Nations, Organization of American States, International Monetary Fund, World Bank, and World Trade Organization.

Bilateral Representation

The U.S. Ambassador to Nicaragua is Phyllis M. Powers; other principal embassy officials are listed in the Department's Key Officers List.

Nicaragua maintains an embassy in the United States at 1627 New Hampshire Avenue, NW, Washington, DC 20009 (tel. 202-939-6570).

More information about Nicaragua is available from the Department of State and other sources, some of which are listed here:

Department of State Nicaragua Page
Department of State Key Officers List
CIA World Factbook Nicaragua Page
U.S. Embassy: Nicaragua
USAID Nicaragua Page
History of U.S. Relations With Nicaragua
Human Rights Reports
International Religious Freedom Reports
Trafficking in Persons Reports
Narcotics Control Reports
Investment Climate Statements
Office of the U.S. Trade Representative Countries Page
U.S. Census Bureau Foreign Trade Statistics
Export.gov International Offices Page
Library of Congress Country Studies
Travel and Business Information



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