Diana and Dennis also do charity, which is a sensitive issue. The regime takes it as criticism. “At the migration service they told me that I can continue with fundraising campaigns. But then I have to hand the money over to the regime.”
“When I organized a fundraising campaign for hurricane victims, my wall was smudged,” says Dennis. “It was written that the victims did not need foreign aid, that I was a terrorist.”
In January a new law came into effect, which aims to get foreign organizations under control. NGOs that are in one way or another have links with foreign countries must register. The controversial law is colloquially referred to as the ‘Putin Law’, because similar rules had already been introduced in Russia.
“It is now easier for them to deal with NGOs that are not welcome,” explains Louise from the Netherlands. She works for a European aid organization and has lived almost continuously in Nicaragua since the 1990s.
“They ask different papers every time. For example, that you suddenly have to show the financial administration of 2016.” Organizations that are a burden to the regime make work very difficult.
Diana had to report to the migration service at the beginning of January. “My residence permit was still valid for four years, but it has been shortened to April. And now I have to report again every two weeks.” Dennis even has no papers at all. “I think they just keep it in hand, so they can expel me at any time,” says Dennis.
The Dutch who tell their story are considering leaving Nicaragua. “But if I do,” says Diana. “Then they confiscate all my belongings here.” She is afraid she will not be able to bring her dogs.
“I have a Nicaraguan daughter,” says Dennis. “If I leave, I don’t know if I can just come back. I’ll leave her and my whole social life.”
Louise is especially concerned about her partner. “I want to go to the Netherlands, but my husband is a Nicaraguan, he can’t just come with me.”