By Circles Robinson
HAVANA TIMES – In an almost unheard-of unanimous vote in these time of polarization, the United States House of Representatives voted 435-0 to approve the Nicaraguan Investment Conditionality Act (Nica Act), now one step away from becoming a law.
All that’s missing is the signature of President Donald Trump, expected to come in the coming days, if not hours, for the sanctions come into force.
The US Senate had already passed the bill two weeks ago, also by unanimous vote, from Bernie Sanders to Marco Rubio on the different ends of the political spectrum.
In the House, the Nica Act was authored by the outgoing conservative Cuban-American congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, and drew the support of the most liberal Democratic Party legislators as well.
The government of Daniel Ortega and Rosario Murillo have tried to sell the world their version of an attempted coup directed and financed by the United States and that their government had nothing to do with the 325 dead, over 3,000 injured and around 600 political prisoners in the Central American country.
It hasn’t worked. Instead Ortega has received the repudiation from the Organization of American States, the United Nations Human Rights Commission, Amnesty International and numerous national and international human rights organizations.
Ros-Lehtinen, who retires this year after 14 full terms in office, noted: “With the final approval of the amended NICA Act, Congress took a leap forward to hold Ortega and his puppets accountable for the abuses committed. In a desperate effort to hold on to power, Ortega and his thugs have continued to repress freedom of expression and peaceful demonstrations. Now, the United States has responded to the call of the Nicaraguan people and will continue to do so in support of the necessary electoral and human rights reforms.”
The bill seeks to condition the approval of the United States for loans to the Ortega regime by international financial institutions such as the Inter American Development Bank, the World Bank and the IMF.
The bipartisan legislation was created exclusively to sanction the crimes of the dictatorship of Daniel Ortega, and will become the third tool of sanctions to be used by the Trump administration against Ortega, officials of the regime and its collaborators, both nationals and foreigners, involved directly in the repression or through financial support or technology.
With the Nica Act the US also sends out a warning to the private sector in Nicaragua about sanctions if they are complicit in the repression of the Ortega regime. On Wednesday the different chambers of the Nicaraguan private sector will hold an assembly in Managua and a pronouncement is expected.
Likewise, the OAS Permanent Council meets at 10:00 a.m. (ET) on Wednesday to hear and discuss the report of the 12-member nation working group on the crisis in Nicaragua.