Over the last month, Nicaragua has been experiencing a new wave of violence, fueled by the reform promoted by the current government of Daniel Ortega. Violent clashes between security forces and protesters have resulted in 70 people being killed and hundreds seriously injured. Social unrest in Nicaragua has also led to severe transportation shutdowns that have affected the transit of products through the territory as well as the export of crops such as coffee or cocoa. Earlier this month, local sources reported customs clearance delays at Managua’s International Airport due to the unavailability of customs officials, based on reduced operating hours and staff. Disruptions to inland cargo movement to and from the Port of Corinto due to roadblocks in the nearby areas were also reported. The Chamber of Commerce in Managua has estimated that more than USD 7.5 million has been lost since the beginning of the social unrest.
Logistics & Transportation Update
As of May 23, Nicaragua still faces serious challenges in the movement of cargo throughout its territory. Although cargo trucks have not been specifically targeted by the violent demonstrations, the recurrent use of roadblocks by protestors has caused severe disruptions to road freight transportation in different parts of the country. In Managua, full roadblocks are currently being reported near the main campus of National Autonomous University of Nicaragua and the Polytechnic University of Nicaragua. In addition, partial roadblocks, with 2 to 3 hours of traffic delays, have been reported at Puente Maderas and Quebrada Onda on the outskirts of Managua.
In the northern region of the country, the border crossing of Las Manos, El Espino and Guasaule between Nicaragua and Honduras are reporting normal transit times. However, partial road blockades have been reported in the cities of Matagalpa and Estelí, as well as in the towns of Rio Blanco, Mulukuku, Matiguas, Esquipulas, El Madroño, San Isidro, and La Trinidad. Vehicles should expect delays of 2-4 hours at these locations.
The central region is being affected the most by the current political crisis in Nicaragua. As of May 23, this region, which includes the departments of Boaco, Chontales, Rio San Juan, and Madriz, is completely inaccessible. Full road blockades have been reported at the Boaco, Lovago, Camoapa, Tule, and La Curva road junctions, as well as in the towns of Morrito, Presilla, El Almendro, Juigalpa, and Nueva Guinea. In addition, partial roadblocks have been erected in the city of Granada at the exit to Nandaime, in the city of Masaya at the exit to Granada, as well as in the town of Niquinohomo.
In the southern part of the country, full roadblocks are affecting the movement of vehicles through the towns of Catarina, Diriomo, and Moninbo, while partial blockades have been reported in the town of Rivas. In Morimbo specifically, sources reported that local gangs are requesting money to allow vehicles to safely transit the area. Finally, reports indicate that the social unrest Nicaragua is currently not affecting the movements of goods through the southern border of the country. The movement of cargo trucks at Las Tablillas and Peñas Blancas border crossings with Costa Rica is normal and no delays have been reported as of this writing.
On the other hand, import and export operations at Managua’s International Airport are back to normal after some disruptions during the initial phase of the unrest. No flight delays or cancellations have been reported as a result of the political instability in the country. Customs officials at the airport and other entry points are working at full capacity. No disruptions have been reported at customs bonded warehouses either. Similarly, the Port of Corinto, Nicaragua’s main port in the Pacific Ocean, its operating at normal capacity, with all shipping lines moving their cargo in and out of the terminal without any major delays. Both airports and seaports are Nicaragua National Army protected areas, so no major social demonstrations are expected at these sites.
Nevertheless, the political situation remains very unstable in Nicaragua. As of May 23, the talks to end the crisis have been suspended indefinitely. As the government continues to crackdown on dissidents and opposition continues to build, disruptions to supply chains will likely increase in the upcoming days. Areas where ongoing protests are taking place should be avoided, and transporters are advised to use alternative roads during the daytime where possible. DHL Resilience360 customers are advised to implement contingency plans and closely monitor ongoing developments in the country.