Nicaraguan army touts national security

Gen. Aviles says there are no drug cartels in Nicaragua

Gen. Julio Cesar Aviles
photo/ Tim Rogers

Gen. Julio Cesar Aviles

With nods to President Daniel Ortega’s political project and special “reverence” for the Russian government, Nicaragua’s top brass, Gen. Julio César Avilés, said national security provided by the armed forces is the “basis for maintaining peace and stability” and the key to “allowing Nicaragua to advance towards a better future.”

Aviles’ comments, made on April 4 during the Nicaraguan Army’s annual report to the president, were a combination of data-driven achievements and oaths of loyalty to President Ortega’s political vision.

“We are the People in uniform, working for peace, working for national development, in defense of national resources, and, of course, in the defense and support of Our People,” Aviles said. He added, “The achievements of this institution, Mr. President, are the achievements of your government. Without your support they wouldn’t have been possible.”

Nicaragua’s firewall

Identifying narco-activity as the “principal threat” to national security, Gen. Aviles said the Nicaraguan Army will continue to maintain its “firewall” against drug trafficking.

According to the general, the scorecard from last year’s military operations against narco-trafficking includes the capture of 367 kilograms of cocaine, 336 kilograms of marijuana, 31 foreign drug traffickers, 133 Nicaraguan drug traffickers, 30 boats and 66 vehicles. The army also destroyed 179,780 marijuana plants, Aviles said.

“For this reason there are no drug cartels (in Nicaragua),” Aviles said. “The closest thing is the intent to create logistical support networks for the transport of drugs by land and sea.”

Aviles also stressed the army’s role in protecting the environment and patrolling its newly acquired Caribbean waters following the 2012 ruling by the International Court of Justice.

Amid the constantly falling trees of Nicaragua’s rapidly depleting Bosawás and Indio-Maíz reserves, the army managed to confiscate 425,564 board feet of illegally harvested timber.

Though Aviles made it sound like most of the trees the army saved had already been cut from the ground, he equated protecting the forests with the future of Nicaragua’s mega-project plans.

“The protection of these reserves is for us an issue of National Security, because they are the birthplace of our important watersheds and their sustainability will contribute to the strategic projects of national development such as the Tumarín (hydroelectric plant) and the Great Interoceanic Canal.”

In the expanded Caribbean waters awarded by the International Court of Justice, the Nicaraguan Army conducted 2,359 missions in 60,872 miles of ocean, Aviles said. The general did not mention what the specific result of those missions were.

Since inheriting 100,000 sq km of additional territorial waters in the 2012 Hague ruling against Colombia, Nicaragua has been trying to prove that the expanded maritime territory is not more than it can handle with the region’s smallest and most ill-equipped navy.

The Nicaraguan Army insists it’s up to the challenge of defending its sovereignty. But as tensions flare with Colombia, Nicaragua has been pressured to modernize and upgrade its military — a need that’s pushing the Central American nation closer to Russia in search of help.


  • Todd G

    How can Nicaragua say it’s a SAFE country when crime is on the rise all over the country and a US citizen was just murdered.

    • Mark Christians

      Are you saying Nicaragua is unsafe because one American citizen was killed? I live in Houston, TX and I certainly have felt safer in Nicaragua than in some areas of Houston.

      • frank

        hi mark and Natalie,
        Yes there are parts of Houston and other large US cities that are very dangerous, but I don’t think you are going to send your daughter to those high crime areas to take a Spanish course, nor should you send your wife to the crime areas of Houston for a relaxing vacation, as the case with this murdered girl in Nicaragua. She was in an expensive tourist resort. ( I’ve been here many times)
        Last Dec. I was brutally beaten and almost killed by four Armed men in Granada. a few months earlier an English girl was raped and beaten in Granada. I could list dozens of such cases, which do not make the news. These cases don’t make the WSJ article crime rate because that only tallied Murders, not violent crime and serious felonies. last year La Prensa Newspaper In Nicaragua published a report of Violent crimes that did not result in death. Nicaragua was second, only slightly behind Honduras.
        There is a reason that the US State Dept has a crime warning for Nicaragua. Look it up.
        I lived in Nicaragua several years, being murdered is bad, but being beaten and robbed is no piece of cake. Unfortunately the highest crime rate is in the tourist areas like Granada and San Juan del Sur , because ( as in the case of this poor girl in the beach community) that is were the money is. I now live and a town in the mountains , less tourist less crime.

        • Mark Christians

          Thanks for the comment. However, I am loath to consider all of Nicaragua as dangerous. Granted I have a higher threshold of “danger/risk” than some, but I recognize that life is not without risk. I could be killed as I walk out of my office in downtown Houston or shot by a random bullet as I drive home today. However, I did not stay in my house with my curtains pulled shut because of this possibility.
          I do not know the circumstances that you encountered in Granada, but during my last stay there, I felt safer than I did during a similar time I was in Puerto Rico. I pay attention to my surroundings and do usually have an exit plan for emergencies.

          • frank

            The details of the event with photos were published only in Nicaraguan dispatch, first of this year , or end of last . The major newspapers ignored it. Your plan of escape may work, as long as you can outrun the bullets from three 9 millimeter guns pushed up against your head with one of the four thugs having you in a headlock while the other three beat you almost to death. Good luck

            your coment about risk is well taken. my risk tolerance is quite high also , having traveded through Afghanistan by road a few years ago as a tourist unarmed, and also having traveled to every country in the mainland Western hemisphere, and most of Latin america, alone on a honda 350 motocycle some time ago, when many areas were still under the control or a least effected by the M19 and Farc.

            and despite having 4 ribs , my nose and front teeth broken, I am still spending most of the year in Nicaragua. I do not say all of Nicaragua is equally dangerous. But I did point out, that the areas most visited by tourist, tend to have much of the crime.

            I suggest everyone make their own decission based on their own “risk tolerance” and not on ours. And I suggest they do not base their decission on inacurate or biased reporting , or misleading studies, and biased info from tourist companies.

            Anyway I love Latin America ( I’m in Colombia now) and I hope these crime problems are solved. But Im not optimistic. The situation is getting worse, since well over 125,000 criminals have been deported back to Central America in the last 12 years and the police in these countries are unable or unwilling to solve this problem.

    • Natalie Wheeler Hastings

      Because it is. If you look at the recent WSJ article about violent crime in Latin America, Nicaragua doesn’t even make the graphic because of how low the crime rate is per 100,000 people. I certainly feel safer letting my kids out in parts of Nicaragua than I would in parts of my own Midwestern city.