WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The United States ordered relatives of government employees out of Nicaragua on Monday and curtailed services at its embassy, citing civil unrest including violent protests, rioting and looting.
The department also authorized the departure of U.S. government employees, it said in a statement. Those will be handled on a case-by-case basis, according to a State Department official.
The official said the embassy in Managua would be unable to provide routine services to the public until further notice, but would continue to be available by phone for emergencies and provide services to U.S. citizens and visa applicants.
At least eight people have died in protests in Nicaragua as demonstrators have mobilized for days against a government plan to overhaul its welfare system. A police crackdown on protesters and curbs on some media have fueled broader criticism of President Daniel Ortega. Ortega said he had canceled the welfare-overhaul initiative.
Nicaragua has been one of Central America’s more stable countries, mostly eschewing the upheaval caused by gang violence or political upheaval that has affected nearby Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala.
“Political rallies and demonstrations are occurring daily, often with little notice or predictability. Some protests result in injuries and deaths,” the State Department said in a statement.
It said the purchase of food and fuel may become more challenging and access to the airport in the capital of Managua may be blocked.
(Reporting by Lesley Wroughton; Writing by Makini Brice; Editing by Bernadette Baum)