Migrants from Central and South America take part in a caravan attempting to reach the Mexico-US border, while protesting over the deaths of 40 migrants in a fire at a detention center, in Mexico's southern state of Chiapas on April 23, 2023 STRINGER/AFP

As more than 260 flights comprising migrants from Haiti reach Nicaragua in order to enter the United States, experts believe Managua is "weaponizing migration as a foreign policy."

After the Nicaragua route to enter the U.S. surfaced on social media in August, more than 260 charter flights have arrived in Nicaragua in the last few months, according to flight data and experts in the region.

Due to this overflow of migrants, the Biden administration and Latin American leaders are coming together to find a solution. However, experts say that Latin American countries like Nicaragua are using this situation to get concessions from the U.S. amid sanctions.

Manuel Orozco, who serves as the director of the migration, remittances, and development program, said at the Inter-American Dialogue on Tuesday that "the Ortega government knows they have few important policy tools at hand to confront the United States, ... so they have armed migration as a way to attack," AP News reported.

"This is definitely a concrete example of weaponizing migration as a foreign policy."

Apart from the U.S., several European countries have also piled on sanctions on the Ortega administration due to an increase in efforts to stifle dissent by shutting down non-governmental groups and universities.

Nicaragua's route has been used by many Caribbean nations like Cuba and Haiti alongside some African countries like Mauritania because the country doesn't require a visa to enter and stay for up to 90 days.

As per the flight tracking data analyzed by Orozco, there are several airlines flying about 31,000 Haitians out of the country. Whereas, around 172 flights have transported 17,000 people from Cuba to Nicaragua.

Orozco disclosed that these flight tickets range between $3,000 to $5,000, which helps people to leave their poor countries and reach the U.S.

A spokesperson for the dissident group Platform for Democratic Unity, Enrique Martínez, said Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega is going to "use this migration issue to say to the United States that we're the ones in control. And if they want to stop this, they're going to have to negotiate."

Martínez further said Ortega's government looked at migration issues, as "business," adding that even though the government was taking advantage of things in the long run, it was making the path more difficult for countries to search for a solution.

Sunrise Airways' spokesperson Stéphanie Armand revealed the company doesn't sell tickets to Nicaragua, but there are third parties, who did so. However, she did not disclose details about the third parties.

"As an airline and aircraft operator, we have no information about the intentions of passengers we are carrying," Armand said. "If passengers comply with the country's entry requirements and are admitted, it is for the authorities, not the airlines, to follow up on their status."

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