Nicaragua breaks diplomatic ties with the Netherlands in exceptional and unusual move

Nicaragua has unilaterally severed diplomatic relations with the Netherlands. The direct cause was the Netherlands’ decision to definitively terminate its financial contribution to the Nicaraguan authorities for the construction of a hospital in Nicaragua, which has been on hold for several years. Cutting diplomatic ties is an exceptional and highly unusual step, and goes against the wishes of the Netherlands.

Human rights

The hospital construction project had already been put on hold in 2018 due to the deteriorating democracy and human rights situation. Given the current circumstances, it was decided to cancel the project altogether.

The Netherlands had repeatedly indicated that such a decision was possible if the situation did not improve. Severing diplomatic ties is an exceptional and highly unusual step for a country to take. It also goes against the wishes of the Netherlands, which attaches great importance to dialogue, even on difficult topics.

The Netherlands' position

It is regrettable that Nicaragua has chosen to respond in this disproportionate way to a critical message about democracy and human rights. The Netherlands has a very clear position about the deterioration of democratic institutions and human rights violations in Nicaragua, but is always willing to engage in dialogue about these issues, which Ambassador Pirenne did again this week.

Nicaragua’s decision to break off diplomatic ties with the Netherlands is not an isolated move. The EU ambassador was declared persona non grata earlier this week, and the newly appointed US ambassador has been barred from entering the country. Earlier this year the apostolic nuncio was expelled from Nicaragua. Nicaragua’s response should be viewed in the light of the EU’s current position and the sanctions the bloc has imposed.

The Netherlands is in talks with other European countries about how they intend to respond to Nicaragua’s actions. Approximately one hundred Dutch nationals live in Nicaragua and the Minister of Foreign Affairs is monitoring their situation. If necessary, the travel advice for Nicaragua will be changed.