Skip to main content

Nicaragua, Intelligence and Security

Nicaragua, Intelligence and Security

Nicaragua gained independence from Spain in 1821, and became a republic in 1838. Late-twentieth-century politics in the region have been marked by violence and turmoil. A brief civil war in 1979 ushered the Marxist Sandinistas to power. Cold War politics, and Sandinista military aid to other leftist rebel groups in the region, prompted the United States to assist anti-Sandinista, contra forces. By the end of 1989, the Sandinistas had lost control of much of Nicaragua, but not before continued violence, rampant corruption, and the actions of secret police forces had devastated the nation.

Domestic intelligence is the responsibility of the Directorate of Intelligence Affairs (DAI). The DAI does conduct limited foreign intelligence operations and processes most of the information gathered by other Nicaraguan intelligence forces. The chief officers of the DAI, as well as members of the Ministry of the Interior, act as a liaison between the intelligence community and the government executive. The relationship between the intelligence community and the government is somewhat ambiguous, with no formal means of accountability or a standardized oversight process. Even following the recent democratic elections, the DAI has come under increasing scrutiny for political espionage activities.

Nicaragua's main military intelligence agency is the Directorate of Military Intelligence. the agency coordinates military and foreign intelligence operations, but also conducts surveillance of paramilitary and opposition groups in the region. The routine operations of the Directorate of Military Intelligence remain largely unknown, but the organization has close ties to political officials and the civilian intelligence community.

Nicaraguan free elections in 1990, 1996, and 2001 ousted the Sandinistas from power, but economic and political recovery has been difficult. Drug trafficking and corruption remain endemic problems, and years of guerrilla fighting have left many Nicaraguans with a deep distrust of the government, military, and other security forces.

Nicaragua is a member of the United Nations (UN) and several other Central and Latin American defense and economic organizations. The government has joined international efforts to stem drug trafficking, combat illegal arms sales, and fight global terrorism.



Central Intelligence Agency. "Nicaragua." CIA World Factbook. <> (April 8, 2003).

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"Nicaragua, Intelligence and Security." Encyclopedia of Espionage, Intelligence, and Security. . 21 Jan. 2019 <>.

"Nicaragua, Intelligence and Security." Encyclopedia of Espionage, Intelligence, and Security. . (January 21, 2019).

"Nicaragua, Intelligence and Security." Encyclopedia of Espionage, Intelligence, and Security. . Retrieved January 21, 2019 from

Learn more about citation styles

Citation styles gives you the ability to cite reference entries and articles according to common styles from the Modern Language Association (MLA), The Chicago Manual of Style, and the American Psychological Association (APA).

Within the “Cite this article” tool, pick a style to see how all available information looks when formatted according to that style. Then, copy and paste the text into your bibliography or works cited list.

Because each style has its own formatting nuances that evolve over time and not all information is available for every reference entry or article, cannot guarantee each citation it generates. Therefore, it’s best to use citations as a starting point before checking the style against your school or publication’s requirements and the most-recent information available at these sites:

Modern Language Association

The Chicago Manual of Style

American Psychological Association

  • Most online reference entries and articles do not have page numbers. Therefore, that information is unavailable for most content. However, the date of retrieval is often important. Refer to each style’s convention regarding the best way to format page numbers and retrieval dates.
  • In addition to the MLA, Chicago, and APA styles, your school, university, publication, or institution may have its own requirements for citations. Therefore, be sure to refer to those guidelines when editing your bibliography or works cited list.