Fifteen US Senators Request Sanctions against Daniel Ortega

Daniel Ortega and his wife/VP Rosario Murillo at a Navy anniversary event. Photo: 19digital

The initiative is led by Senator Bob Menendez, who was joined by other Republican and Democratic colleagues.

By Confidencial

HAVANA TIMES – The United States senators are   pressing for the Secretary of State to exert more pressure on the Ortega regime and, just as the European Union did, which sanctioned Vice President Rosario Murillo, to also apply an individual sanction against the Nicaraguan dictator.

In a letter sent to Secretary of State Anthony Blinken, Senator Bob Menendez, as well as other 14 Republican and Democratic senators, demanded that the Biden Administration pay more attention to what is happening in Nicaragua and increase pressure to prevent a further deterioration of democracy in the country.

“The international community must take urgent actions to stem one of the most severe campaigns of repression in the Western Hemisphere since the military dictatorships of the 1980s,” says part of the letter.

The congressmen refer to the most recent escalation of repression that the regime has led since May 2021, when it began a hunt for opponents against presidential candidates, opposition leaders, members of the private sector and journalists who oppose or criticize the regime of Ortega and his wife Rosario Murillo.

In May, the Public Ministry launched an “investigation” against the Violeta Barrios de Chamorro Foundation alleging money laundering crimes, which were extended to other organizations such as the Nicaraguan Foundation for Economic and Social Development (FUNIDES).

Two former workers of the Violeta Foundation were arrested at the end of May and in early June the hunt for presidential candidates began with the arrest of Cristiana Chamorro, former director of the same non-governmental organization.

Days after, the regime also imprisoned the presidential candidates Arturo Cruz, Felix Maradiaga, Juan Sebastian Chamorro, Miguel Mora, Medardo Mairena and other politicians and opponents until any electoral competition to annul the political and electoral opposition to Ortega, who seeks his fourth consecutive presidential reelection, in a ballot where there is only room for minor parties willing to collaborate with the ruling party.

To date, 37 Nicaraguans remain in detention in this new wave of repression and political persecution, raising the number of political prisoners of the regime to over 150.

The Biden Administration has powerful tools at its disposal, including the 2018 Nicaraguan Investment Conditionality Act (NICA) Act, and the measures defined under the Reinforcing Nicaragua’s Adherence to Conditions for Electoral Reform Act (RENACER) Act, which passed the Senate on August 6. Full implementation of the NICA Act will send the Ortega regime a clear message: continued repression is unacceptable. As you evaluate options, we encourage you to expand sanctions to President Daniel Ortega and the ranks of the Nicaraguan military and its investment fund, the Instituto de Prevision Social Militar (IPSM),” the document continues.

Conditions for financing

Also, the senators recommend that the loans made by multilateral organizations be conditioned and allege that they only serve to benefit the members of the regime and do not provide any type of aid to the Nicaraguan population directly.

This is the second time in a week that US politicians have called for financial organizations to stop providing funds to the Ortega regime. On September 24, Congressman Albio Sires, sent a letter to the director of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), Kristalina Georgieva, claiming that the money is not used for the purpose of fighting the pandemic, for example.

Now the senators also want to take the consequences for the regime much further and are once again requesting that article 21 of the Inter-American Democratic Charter be applied to Nicaragua within the Organization of American States.

“The Ortega regime thrives on the lack of effective multilateral coordination. We ask that you encourage sustained international scrutiny and condemnation by UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres and relevant UN bodies. Unless the opposition presidential candidates are released from detention, their parties are re-registered, and they are together allowed to nominate an opposition presidential candidate to run in the November elections, the United States should rally its partners at the Organization of American States (OAS) to support a resolution condemning the vote as illegitimate and consider invoking Article 21 or the Inter-American Charter to suspend Nicaragua from the OAS,” added the senators.

They explain that with all these measures, Ortega would have no other option but to allow a democratic change in the country. But, if that does not happen, they say, a revision of the Free Trade Agreement between the United States, Central America and the Dominican Republic (DR-CAFTA) would have to be carried out.

This week, Nicaraguan Foreign Minister Denis Moncada Colindres used his participation in the General Assembly of the United Nations Organization (UN), representing the Ortega regime, to characterize the sanctions against government operators as a “savage obstacle to poverty eradication” and a crime against humanity, while he remained silent about human rights violations.

Moncada used his 24 minutes speech to request the “immediate end” of the “coercive and aggressive policies” against other nations, in clear allusion to the sanctions imposed against officials and institutions of the regime of Daniel Ortega and Rosario Murillo.

He insisted that “in times of Covid-19 pandemic, these measures become a crime against humanity by those who impose them.”

The sanctions of the international community have been applied in an individual capacity against those who, they assess, are responsible for serious violations of the human rights of Nicaraguans. These measures include a freezing of assets, prohibition of transactions, denial or revocation of visas, and financial penalties.

In total, there are 31 officials and operators of the regime sanctioned by the United States, and more than half a dozen of them are also sanctioned by the European Union and the Governments of Canada, Switzerland and the United Kingdom.

Read more from Nicaragua here on Havana Times.