Remittances from Nicaraguan migrants mark new record, passing $4 billion

SAN JOSE (Reuters) – Nicaraguan migrants sent relatives back home record remittances this year through November, data from the country’s central bank showed on Wednesday, fueled by massive waves of migration leaving the Central American nation in recent years.

In a statement, the bank noted a record haul of about $4.24 billion in remittances for the 11-month period, 47% more than the amount sent home during the same period last year.

The money sent home by Nicaraguan migrants represent a key lifeline for the economy during the latest year of President Daniel Ortega’s government, which has been marked by growing unemployment and poverty.

Propelled in large part by outflows of migrants seeking better economic prospects, primarily in the United States, as well as those who have fled since deadly anti-government protests broke out in 2018, Nicaragua has seen especially large displacements in recent years along with record remittances so far this year.

U.S.-bound Nicaraguan migration hit a record last year with 164,600 migrant encounters counted by the U.S. government, but during this year’s fiscal year, which ended in September, migrant encounters dipped to about 139,000.

Last year, Nicaraguan migration to all countries surpassed 300,000, while overall 1.5 million Nicaraguans now live outside their home country, or about 22% of the country’s population, according to U.N. data analyzed by Dialogo Interamericano researcher Manuel Orozco.

The 2023 remittances tallied by Nicaragua’s central bank showed that nearly 60% came from the senders in the United States and almost 20% from neighboring Costa Rica.

(Reporting by Ismael Lopez; Editing by David Alire Garcia and Josie Kao)