ADL Reports That Nicaragua’s Jewish Community Has Been Forced into Exile by Sandinist Government
Menu JTA Search

ADL Reports That Nicaragua’s Jewish Community Has Been Forced into Exile by Sandinist Government

Download PDF for this date

The Sandinist government of Nicaragua has forced the country’s entire Jewish community into exile, confiscating Jewish-owned property and taking over the synagogue in Managua, according to the Anti-Defamation League of B’nai B’rith.

Rabbi Morton Rosenthal, director of the ADL’s Latin American Affairs Department, made the disclosure in an article prepared by him for publication in the ADL Bulletin, the agency’s national publication.

Rosenthal, who last visited Nicaragua shortly before the Sandinists came to power in 1979, said the government of Nicaragua has been unresponsive to ADL appeals to end “these human rights violations ” and permit the return of the Jews to their country.

The forced exodus of the Nicaraguan Jewish community — numbering about 50 — took place after the Somoza regime was overthrown. Their ouster was effected, the article said, by subtle and direct threats or by forcible measures.


The case of Isaac Stavisky, a textile engineer, who was out of the country at the time of the Sandinist victory, was cited as an example. Stavisky, the article said, was advised that he should not return to his country “for his own safety because he and his brother-in-law were considered enemies of the revolution. “

The president of the Nicaraguan Jewish community, Abraham Gorn, was jailed after the Sandinist victory. “Gorn, ” Rosenthal wrote, “who was then 70 years old, was falsely accused of stealing land and was forced to sweep streets during the two weeks of his confinement.”

Six month later, he went on, Sandinists summarily ousted him from his factory and took it over. The Sandinists told factory workers to threaten to bomb his car if he returned. Gorn was quoted as saying that Carlos Arguello, currently Minister of Justice, confiscated his bank account and “then kicked me out of my home.”

Despite the departure of the Jewish community, Rosenthal said, anti-Semitism still exists in the country. In July, 1982, he said that a Managua newspaper, Nuevo Diario, which often reflects government policy, published articles that were filled with virulent anti-Semitic statements such as a reference to “synagogues of Satan.”

The Sandinists have also converted the synagogue in Managua into a children’s social club, covering exterior Stars of David with propaganda posters and adorning the inside walls with anti-Zionist propaganda.

Nicaraguan Jews, according to the article, cite the long and close relationship between the Palestine Liberation Organization and the Sandinists as a source of their problems.


The article states that ADL has sought to alleviate the plight of Nicaraguan Jews in ongoing discussions with Nicaraguan diplomats for two years. In New York in 1981, the ADL brought the problems to the attention of Nicaragua’s Foreign Minister, Miguel d’Escoto, who promised to investigate the complaints.

Subsequently, Nicaraguan officials promised to review confiscation cases but have not yet delivered any response, nor have they responded to ADL requests to state the conditions under which Jews could return to their country.

Noting that Minister of Justice Arguello said at a recent meeting of the Human Rights Committee at the United Nations that the government would consider a request from Nicaraguan Jews that the synagogue be returned to them as a place of worship, Rosenthal said:

“This is a meaningless promise in a country without Jews.”

Founding Funders

The digitization of the JTA Archive would not have been possible without the generous support of the following donors:
  • The Gottesman Fund
  • Righteous Persons Foundation
  • Charles H. Revson Foundation
  • Elisa Spungen Bildner and Robert Bildner, in honor of Norma Spungen
  • George S. Blumenthal
  • Grace and Scott Offen Charitable Fund