Nicaragua has become the latest country in the region to send the army onto the streets to fight crime, with the deployment of 1,000 soldiers to rural areas of the country which the government says are troubled by criminal gangs.
As part of what the government’s “Plan for Security in the Countryside,” the specially-trained forces will be sent to coffee-growing and livestock farming areas. Their aim is to combat groups who carry out extortion and steal property, according to the army.
However newspaper El Nuevo Diario argued that the violence in the countryside, especially in the North Atlantic Autonomous Region (RAAN) was due not to criminal groups as the authorities claim, but to armed groups with political agendas.
These autonomous regions are home to much of the country’s indigenous population, and are often hostile to the central government. They are also home to increasingly popular routes for drug traffickers shipping their product north.
With the troop mobilization, Nicaragua follows many other countries in the region who are using their militaries for law enforcement roles amid the crime wave hitting the region, including Honduras, El Salvador, and Guatemala.