European Parliament Demands “Supervision” of Funds for Nicaragua

Plenary session of the European Parliament in Strasburg, France, September 2021. Photo: European Parliament / Flickr

The European deputies approved a resolution condemning the “electoral farce” and rejecting the legitimacy of Ortega and Murillo’s new mandate.

By Confidencial

HAVANA TIMES – On December 16, a broad majority of the European Parliament approved a resolution condemning the November 7th “electoral farce” that took place in Nicaragua. Accordingly, they refused to recognize the new electoral term of Daniel Ortega and Rosario Murillo. At the same time, they urged the European Union and its member states to “supervise” the funds assigned to that country, in order to bypass the regime’s corruption.

The resolution passed with 619 votes in favor, 25 against, and 41 abstentions, in a session attended by 685 of the 705 European Parliament representatives. In the document, the European deputies also reiterated their demand to activate the democratic clause of the Association Agreement between the European Union and Central America, with an eye towards removing Nicaragua from the trade treaty.

The eighth point of the resolution indicates: “The corruption which has directly benefited the Ortega-Murillo family, and the patrimonialism [complete centralization of power] of the Nicaragua regime, including the looting of the country’s natural resources, are endemic and generalized, and are leading the country towards an economic and humanitarian collapse.”

“The European Union (EU) and its member states should maintain their humanitarian aid in support of the most vulnerable, at the same time exploring alternative measures to confront the generalized corruption,” states the document. It adds that the European Parliament “asks the EU and its member states to supervise any European funds assigned [to Nicaragua], as well as those channeled through the multilateral and financial institutions, to assure that they aren’t contributing to reinforcing the regime’s corruption.”

It’s the first time that a resolution of the European Parliament takes aim at the funds that Europe assigns to Nicaragua. Since 2018, the European deputies have passed five resolutions regarding the Nicaraguan situation. One was approved in May 2018; another in March 2019, following the visit of the European deputies to the country. A third came in December 2019; a fourth in October 2020; and the last on in July 2021.

At the beginning of June, a group of European parliament members sent a letter to President Ortega warning that the future of European cooperation “will depend on the country’s return to the path of democracy.” At that time, the regime had jailed seven opposition leaders, four of them – Cristiana Chamorro, Arturo Cruz, Juan Sebastian Chamorro, and Felix Maradiaga – former presidential hopefuls. The number of opposition leaders and sympathizers imprisoned since May 2021 has now ascended to 40,  making an estimated total of 170 political prisoners in the Ortega regime’s jails. Those imprisoned in the most recent wave include human rights defenders, student leaders, businessmen, former diplomats, journalists and farm leaders.

EP condemns “electoral farce”

In its first point, the resolution “condemns the electoral farce orchestrated by the Ortega-Murillo regime on November 7, 2021, in violation of all the international democratic parameters for credible, inclusive, fair and transparent elections.”

“[We] reject the legitimacy of the results of these false elections and, as such, the democratic legitimacy of any institutional authority that comes out of such rigged elections,” reads the resolution’s text. It continues: “[We support] the declarations affirming that these elections finalize Nicaragua’s complete transformation into an autocratic regime.”

During the prior parliamentary debate on the resolution on December 14th, a broad majority of the European deputies, plus Josep Borrell, the EU’s chief Foreign Affairs representative, characterized the Sandinista strongman as a “dictator”.

“Many years ago, Ortega represented to many the forces of freedom for a people who had defeated a dictator (Anastasio Somoza Debayle), thus garnering admiration. (…) Now he has become a caricature of the Nicaraguan dictator, the mirror image of the dictator he fought against at that time,” Borrell commented to the plenary session of the European Parliament in Strasburg, France.

In the parliamentary debate, almost all groups expressed their rejection of Ortega’s and Murillo’s slide into dictatorship. Leopoldo Lopez Gil, a deputy from the conservative People’s Party, stated that the European Parliament “should never be an accomplice to the pantomime of an electoral process that was held last November 7th.”

Spanish deputy Jose Ramon Bauza Diaz said: “Ortega has succeeded in sinking Nicaragua into a level of repression unknown since the worst days of Somoza.”

Sanctions and proposal to activate the democratic clause

The resolution includes proposals from six different parliamentary groups. Sources from the European legislative chamber informed Confidencial that the different political blocs coincided on a number of points, especially in regard to invoking the democratic clause in the EU – CA Association Agreement, and to directly sanctioning Daniel Ortega.

There are six principal political groups within the European Parliament, each one comprised of at least 23 European deputies. The groups with the most members are the European Popular Party (178); the Socialists and Democrats (144); and Renew Europe (100).

In the resolution, the European legislators determined: “In conformity with the Association Agreement between the EU and Central America, Nicaragua should respect and consolidate the principles of Rule of Law, Democracy, and Human Rights.”  In light of this, they reiterated “the petition that in view of the current circumstances, the democratic clause of the Association Agreement should be invoked.”

In Tuesday’s debate, Borrell explained that “suspending these trade preferences means nothing more than treating Nicaraguan exports the same as those from any other country that doesn’t enjoy any special arrangement with us. Half the exports from Nicaragua are raw materials, which are currently entering the EU with zero tariffs.”

He specified that the European Union represents 9% of Nicaraguan exports, mainly coffee and plantains. “I don’t believe the regime will make changes for 300 million [Euros] worth of exports. However, many Nicaraguans that work in these sectors would find themselves affected.”

Since 2019, the EU has sanctioned 14 high functionaries of the regime, among them vice president and first lady Rosario Murillo. None of those sanctioned can enter the European territories, and they’ve frozen any stocks and assets they may hold in the EU. The list of those sanctioned was renewed in October 2021 for a one-year period.

The seventh point of the European Parliament’s resolution “praised the inclusion of Rosario Murillo, together with other names, in the list of those sanctioned that was extended until October 2022.” It also “requests that Daniel Ortega be added as soon as possible to the list of the sanctioned.”

“Ortega is a criminal and should be treated as such. We must hit him where it hurts most – in his wallet – and in that of all his proxies that are also here in Europe. We should sanction Ortega directly, once and for all, but let’s also put the focus on the regime’s international financing. We should freeze the disbursements that reach the regime, until we’re assured that democracy has returned to Nicaragua,” denounced European deputy Bauza Diaz in the December 14th debate.

To read more from Nicaragua click here.

 [SH1]I added – is that the correct current number?

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