Nicaragua ends diplomatic relations with the Netherlands

Row over human rights follows deteriorating relationship with US and EU

In the latest sign of Nicaragua’s growing isolation in Central America, president Daniel Ortega has ended diplomatic relations with the Netherlands a week after telling the US and EU ambassadors they are not welcome in his country.

In a statement, the Dutch government confirmed the “unilateral ending of diplomatic ties”, which it described as “a highly unusual step” that was “both disproportionate and regrettable” and that ran “counter to the wishes of the Netherlands”.

At the centre of the row is a decision by the Dutch to “definitively terminate” financial support for a long-awaited hospital whose construction has been on hold since 2018 because of what overseas contributors see as the country’s “deteriorating democracy and human rights situation”.

The statement issued in The Hague said it had “warned repeatedly” that a decision to terminate funding was possible if the human rights climate did not improve — just as it had consistently indicated its willingness to engage in constructive dialogue.


The news that the funding would not be forthcoming was conveyed to officials in Managua last Friday by the Dutch ambassador in Central America, Christine Pirenne, and immediately drew an angry response from president Ortega.

“The ambassador came here to speak to Nicaraguans as if Nicaragua is a Dutch colony,” he said. “Those who come here to disrespect our people and our homeland should not appear here again. We do not want relations with that interventionist government.”

In a brief statement later, echoing the president’s tone, the Nicaraguan department of foreign affairs claimed the Netherlands had been guilty of “repeated neocolonialist meddling” in the country.

This is not the first deterioration in relations between the two countries. The Netherlands closed its embassy in Nicaragua in 2013, and Ms Pirenne is based in Costa Rica. Nicaragua still has an embassy in The Hague.

The last week has been a bad one for Nicaraguan diplomacy. On Wednesday, EU ambassador Bettina Muscheidt was declared “persona non grata” without any specified reason.

On Friday, president Ortega’s wife, vice-president Rosario Murillo, said the new US ambassador Hugo Rodriguez would not be allowed to enter the country because of remarks he made at a senate confirmation hearing, where he described his new posting as “a pariah state” and “a dictatorship”.

The Catholic church came under attack last week for allegedly fomenting unrest in 2018 at proposed welfare cuts.

At the end of the week, President Michael D Higgins, a former friend of Ortega’s, appealed for the release of political prisoners and the restoration of human rights in a climate which has worsened since his Nicaraguan counterpart began his fourth consecutive term in office in November 2021.

Peter Cluskey

Peter Cluskey

Peter Cluskey is a journalist and broadcaster based in The Hague, where he covers Dutch news and politics plus the work of organisations such as the International Criminal Court