Main Menu
Street Children

Human Trafficking & Modern-day Slavery

Poverty drives the unsuspecting poor into the hands of traffickers

Published reports & articles from 2000 to 2025                    

Republic of Nicaragua

Nicaragua has widespread underemployment and the second lowest per capita income in the Western Hemisphere. The US-Central America Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA) has been in effect since April 2006 and has expanded export opportunities for many agricultural and manufactured goods. Textiles and apparel account for nearly 60% of Nicaragua's exports, but recent increases in the minimum wage will likely erode its comparative advantage in this industry.  [The World Factbook, U.S.C.I.A. 2009]

Description: Description: Nicaragua

Nicaragua is principally a source and transit country for women and children trafficked for the purposes of commercial sexual exploitation and forced labor. Women and children are trafficked within the country and to neighboring countries, most often to El Salvador, Costa Rica, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, and the United States, for commercial sexual exploitation. The most prevalent form of internal trafficking is the exploitation of children, both boys and girls, in prostitution. NGOs identify Managua, Granada, Esteli, and San Juan del Sur as destinations for foreign child sex tourists. NGOs report instances of forced child marriages between young girls and older foreign men, particularly in San Juan del Sur. Children are trafficked within the country for forced labor in construction, agriculture, the fishing industry, and for domestic servitude. - U.S. State Dept Trafficking in Persons Report, June, 2009  [Check out a later country report here and possibly a full TIP Report here


CAUTION:  The following links have been culled from the web to illuminate the situation in Nicaragua.  Some of these links may lead to websites that present allegations that are unsubstantiated or even false.  No attempt has been made to validate their authenticity or to verify their content.



If you are looking for material to use in a term-paper, you are advised to scan the postings on this page and others to see which aspects of Human Trafficking are of particular interest to you.  Would you like to write about Forced-Labor?  Debt Bondage? Prostitution? Forced Begging? Child Soldiers? Sale of Organs? etc.  On the other hand, you might choose to include precursors of trafficking such as poverty and hunger. There is a lot to the subject of Trafficking.  Scan other countries as well.  Draw comparisons between activity in adjacent countries and/or regions.  Meanwhile, check out some of the Term-Paper resources that are available on-line.


Check out some of the Resources for Teachers attached to this website.

HELP for Victims

Foreign Affairs Ministry
22 44 8000
Country code: 505-



Child Gold Miners in Nicaragua - Gold tempts Nicaragua children

Ivan Castro, Reuters, La India Nicaragua, 24 Dec 2004

Source of photographs is "The Legacy of Greenstone Resources in Nicaragua" by Anneli Tolvanen, Published by MiningWatch Canada. March, 2003

[accessed 11 March 2011]

In a dim and dangerous tunnel lit only by the flicker of candles, Juan Laguna and four other children toil with rusty pick-axes to loosen chunks of rock they hope will yield at least a little bit of gold.   Laguna then undertakes the arduous process of milling and washing the ore. If it is a good day, it will give him enough gold to sell for about $3 (1.60 pounds). But he is not always lucky.   "Not every day goes well," says Laguna, who is 12 but has the slight build of a child half his age.   Working with hundreds of other youngsters, Laguna has spent five years scratching the walls of tunnels in the La India mining district, more than 100 miles (160 km) west of Nicaragua's capital Managua.

PHOTOS: Child gold miners in Nicaragua

AlertNet, Reuters foundation, 09 Dec 2004

At one time this article had been archived and may possibly still be accessible [here]

[accessed 9 September 2011]

Featured here are images by Reuters photographer Oswaldo Rivas of child gold miners working in Nicaraguan mines. While more than 300,000 children between five and 17 work at underpaid jobs instead of going to school, the Nicaraguan government is working to pass a law to eradicate the ten most dangerous jobs that exploit children.


*** ARCHIVES ***

2020 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices: Nicaragua

U.S. Dept of State Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, 30 March 2021

[accessed 18 June 2021]


Observers noted reports of forced labor, including of men, women, and children in agriculture, construction, mining, street begging, and domestic servitude. Victim identification, prosecution, and conviction remained inadequate, and victims’ family members were often complicit in their exploitation. Traffickers lured residents of rural or border regions with the promise of high-paying jobs in urban and tourist areas but then subjected them to sexual exploitation and forced labor.


Child labor remained widespread. According to organizations that worked on children’s rights, this likely increased to almost 320,000 children working in some form of child labor. A common feature of child labor was the prevalence of unpaid family work, and the National Institute of Development Information stated 80 percent of children and adolescents were unpaid workers.

Children engaged in the worst forms of child labor, including in commercial sexual exploitation (see section 6). Most child labor occurred in forestry, fishing, and the informal sector, including on coffee plantations and subsistence farms. Child labor also occurred in the production of dairy products, oranges, bananas, tobacco, palm products, coffee, rice, and sugarcane; cattle raising; street sales; garbage-dump scavenging; stone crushing; gold mining and quarrying of pumice and limestone; construction; drug production and trafficking; street performing; domestic work; and transport. Persons with disabilities and children were subjected to forced begging, particularly in Managua and near tourist centers.

Children working in agriculture suffered from sun exposure, extreme temperatures, and dangerous pesticides and other chemicals. Children working in the fishing industry were at risk from polluted water and dangerous ocean conditions.

Freedom House Country Report

2020 Edition

[accessed 4 May 2020]


Nicaragua is a source country for women and children forced into prostitution; adults and children are also vulnerable to forced labor, notably in the agriculture and mining sectors, and as domestic servants. While recognizing the government’s “significant efforts” to tackle human trafficking, the 2019 US State Department’s Trafficking in Persons Report said the country did not demonstrate increasing efforts over the previous year, and that the Caribbean coastal regions continued to be disproportionately affected due to weaker institutions there.

2017 Findings on the Worst Forms of Child Labor

Office of Child Labor, Forced Labor, and Human Trafficking, Bureau of International Labor Affairs, US Dept of Labor, 2018

[accessed 22 April 2019]

[accessed 4 May 2020]

Note:: Also check out this country’s report in the more recent edition DOL Worst Forms of Child Labor

[page 740]

In Nicaragua, children are subjected to commercial sexual exploitation, particularly in Granada, Managua, the Caribbean autonomous regions, and San Juan del Sur. (23; 26) Children in Nicaragua who lack identification documents, sometimes due to a lack of birth registration, may not have access to social services and are at an increased risk of human trafficking and commercial sexual exploitation. (11) An estimated 15 percent of children born in Nicaragua lack birth certificates. (27) Although the government’s birth registration campaign is advancing, it does not reach all children, especially in remote areas. (28; 29; 30).

Trafficking in Children in Latin America and the Caribbean [PDF]

Casa Alianza, Covenant House – Latin America, 2003

[accessed 11 March 2011]

[accessed 13 June 2017]

[page 4] FINAL DESTINATIONS - Costa Rica is a principle receiving country for sexual tourism in both the region and the world; a quick browse on the Internet provides sufficient evidence of this phenomenon.  Nicaragua is a principle “supplier” of trafficked children to destinations throughout Central America as documents are falsified with relative ease.

Central America Bastion Of Child Sexual Exploitation

Child Labour News Service, March 15 2002 – Source: La  Prensa

[accessed 11 March 2011]

[scroll down]

CENTRAL AMERICA BASTION OF CHILD SEXUAL EXPLOITATION - Central America has become one of the most attractive regions for paedophiles.  Poverty, the low risk of facing criminal charges and a high degree of government corruption contribute to attracting men to the area who want to sexually exploit children.

According to the report, Nicaragua is the "principal supplier of sexual victims for the whole region."  Harris said, "Many Nicaraguans, adults, adolescents and even minors, end up in centres in Honduras, El Salvador, and principally Guatemala, and in the south their destination is Costa Rica, where there is the most intense sexual tourism."

Advancing the Campaign Against Child Labor: Efforts at the Country Level – Nicaragua

U.S. Dept of Labor Bureau of International Labor Affairs, 2002

[accessed 8 September 2014]

[page 183]

CHILD LABOR IN NICARAGUA - There are reports of children forced to work in the streets of Managua as vendors and beggars by their parents; in some cases, these children are “rented” by their parents to organized networks of beggars. Between 4,000 and 5,000 children are estimated to work on the streets of the capital city, selling merchandise, cleaning automobile windows, or working in other activities.

House Armed Services Committee Member Criticizes US Army & Air Force Relationship with Burmese Sweatshop

The National Labor Committee, December 19, 2000

At one time this article had been archived and may possibly still be accessible [here]

[accessed 9 September 2011]

On December 5th, at a press conference on Capitol Hill, McKinney and Congressman Sherrod Brown (D-OH) called on the GAO to conduct an inquiry into the Pentagon agency’s practices. Brown had traveled to Nicaragua in July where he interviewed former workers, plant managers, and government officials. He and a series of delegations including human rights and religious leaders documented brutal sweatshop conditions in the Nicaraguan factory. The Pentagon claimed that its investigators found no problems at the plant.

Concluding Observations of the Committee on the Rights of the Child (CRC)

UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, 3 June 2005

[accessed 12 December 2010]

[62] The Committee further notes that the domestic legislation does not seem to contain provisions punishing sale and trafficking of children for the purpose of economic exploitation.

The Protection Project - Nicaragua [DOC]

The Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS), The Johns Hopkins University

[accessed 2009]

FACTORS THAT CONTRIBUTE TO THE TRAFFICKING INFRASTRUCTURE - Throughout the Central American region, “machismo” attitudes are prevalent, and women are often viewed as sexual objects. Interfamily violence, the breakdown of families, and poverty push young people to leave their homes and communities to search for better lives. The pull factor of the United States also causes many young people to migrate northward. To a lesser extent, pull factors entice young people toward more prosperous neighboring countries, for example, from Nicaragua south to Costa Rica. At border crossings, children are especially vulnerable to the whims of corrupt immigration officials or traffickers who help them cross the border.

FORMS OF TRAFFICKING - Young women leave Nicaragua for neighboring countries or other places for promised jobs in hotels or factories or as domestics.  One report recounts the story of a girl who was kidnapped at the age of 12 as she was walking to school in Managua in 1998. She had set out for school alone, as she did every morning. A taxi stopped her to ask directions. She remembers nothing more after that. She woke up in an unfamiliar place among other young girls, guarded by three women. Less than a week later, she was sold to some men, who sold her to others, who brought her to the United States to work in a brothel. For the next 6 years, until she was 18, she was “dragged from place to place and passed from hand to hand.” At the age of 18, she managed to go to the authorities, who deported her. She is now back in Nicaragua after “losing the best years of [her] life and [her] adolescence.”


Freedom House Country Report

2018 Edition

[accessed 4 May 2020]


Human trafficking is a significant issue in Nicaragua, which serves as a source country for women and children forced into prostitution; adults and children are also vulnerable to forced labor in the agriculture, mining, and other sectors, and as domestic servants. While recognizing the government’s “significant efforts” to tackle human trafficking, the 2017 U.S. State Department’s Trafficking in Persons Report stated that promised funds to be put aside for antitrafficking initiatives had failed to materialize, and that the Atlantic coast continued to be disproportionately affected due to weaker institutions there.

Human Rights Reports » 2005 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices

U.S. Dept of State Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, March 8, 2006

[accessed 10 February 2020]

TRAFFICKING IN PERSONS – Government officials, NGOs, and other organizations characterized trafficking as a growing problem throughout the region. The government, NGOs, and media periodically reported cases of individual women trafficked to brothels in Guatemala and Mexico by well-organized criminal bands operating throughout Central America. Few cases were documented fully by the authorities, and there were no reliable statistics on the scale of the problem. The two main types of trafficking involved women moved from rural areas to urban nightclubs and massage parlors and women from urban areas, lured to brothels in neighboring countries by offers of legitimate employment.

The Department of Labor’s 2004 Findings on the Worst Forms of Child Labor

U.S. Dept of Labor Bureau of International Labor Affairs, 2005

[accessed 12 December 2010]

Note:: Also check out this country’s report in the more recent edition DOL Worst Forms of Child Labor

INCIDENCE AND NATURE OF CHILD LABOR - Some children are forced by their parents to beg, and some are “rented” out by their parents to organized groups of beggars.  Nicaragua is considered to be a source and transit country for trafficking within Central America and Mexico.

All material used herein reproduced under the fair use exception of 17 USC § 107 for noncommercial, nonprofit, and educational use.  PLEASE RESPECT COPYRIGHTS OF COMPONENT ARTICLES.  Cite this webpage as: Patt, Prof. Martin, "Human Trafficking & Modern-day Slavery - Nicaragua",, [accessed <date>]