“Nica Act” Reintroduced in US Senate

The bill, similar to the one already in the House, questions the corruption and demands the reestablishment of democracy in Nicaragua.

By Wilfredo Miranda Aburto  (Confidencial)

Senators boarding a bus to the White House. Photo: Jim Lo Scalzo/EFE

HAVANA TIMES – The draft of the Nica Bill [Nicaraguan Investments Conditionality Act], threatening to impose economic sanctions on Nicaragua in response to the authoritarian drift and corruption of Comandante Daniel Ortega’s regime, was revived this Wednesday for discussion in the US House and Senate.

Republican senator Ted Cruz reintroduced the measure, together with Republican Ileana Ros- Lehtinen and Democrat Albio Sires.

“This legislation would direct the United States to use our voice and vote at international financial institutions to oppose loans for the government of Nicaragua until President Ortega’s regime is held accountable for its oppressive policies and anti-democratic actions, and the Secretary of State certifies that Nicaragua is taking effective steps to hold free and fair elections and combat corruption,” Cruz stated.

The Nica Act went out of circulation in the House of Representatives when the 2016 Congressional session closed.  This year it was modified and hardened by its sponsors.

In April, twenty-five members of the House demanded not only the reestablishment of democratic institutions in Nicaragua but also an active effort to combat corruption and to investigate the high officials tainted by this type of act, as conditions to prevent a funds stoppage.  In addition, they accelerated the timeline for the State Department to present a report about these conditions, making it a ninety-day period instead of the 120 days stipulated in the original proposal.

The new version of the Nica Act that’s now in the Senate, also ignores the agreement between the government and the Organization of American States (OAS). Nevertheless, it does take up concerns from the OAS observation mission’s report, a document that signaled clear flaws in Nicaragua’s electoral system.

“Last year’s presidential election in Nicaragua further confirmed what we already knew – President Ortega’s authoritarian tactics have escalated and he continues to persecute those who seek to live in freedom,” Cruz said.

According to the Republican senator from Texas, if President Ortega wishes the benefits of financial assistance from institutions where the United States contributes and has a voice, he needs to carry out basic democratic reforms.

“I will continue to work with my colleagues in Congress and the new Administration to advance the Nicaraguan Investment Conditionality Act, and promote a stable, secure region with the ability to foster growth and prosperity. Nicaragua and all freedom-loving people in Central America depend on U.S. leadership” Cruz affirmed.

On Thursday, the senators met with Carlos Ponce, the Latin American director of the Freedom House organization. In 2016 Ponce was expelled from Nicaragua by immigration authorities.  During this meeting they discussed the human rights situation in Cuba, Nicaragua and Venezuela.

“The NICA Law permits the United States to hold the Ortega government responsible for its violations of fundamental freedoms.  It demonstrates the U.S. commitment to ally itself with the hundreds of human rights advocates in Nicaragua and sends a clear message about the need to maintain free and fair elections and the rule of law,” Ponce declared.

2 thoughts on ““Nica Act” Reintroduced in US Senate

  • Cruz, Ros-Lehtinen, and Sires JUST HAPPEN to be the three members of the U. S. Congress behind the Nica Bill that is designed to end the Ortega government in Nicaragua. Most of all, it appears to be yet another example of poor little Cuba having a OVER-SIZED influence across not just the Caribbean but all of Latin America…and even across the world as indicated by the international 191-to-0 vote in the UN condemning America’s Cuban policy.

    NOW REALLY, FOLKS!! Do Cruz, Ros-Lehtinen, and Sires aim their arrows at Nicaragua with something they call the Nica Bill because the Ortega government supports the Cuban Revolution that Ortega’s guerrilla fighters replicated in Nicaragua. Cuba’s revolution ended the reign of the U.S.-backed Batista. Ortega’s revolution ended the reign of the U.S.-backed Somoza. Castro in Cuba and Ortega in Nicaragua were/are SURELY NOT democracy-loving angels but WHAT EXACTLY were Batista and Somoza? Of course, other Cuban-friendly Latin American governments democratically elected — Brazil, Venezuela, Argentina, Bolivia, etc. — all have complained about receiving similar treatment from the anti-Cuban extremists in Miami and the U. S. Congress.

    For the record, as a democracy-loving American I view the Nica Bill (etc.) as anti-AMERICAN as far as the whole of Latin America is concerned. It is a reminder that democratic elections are FAR BETTER than vile-thieving dictators such as Batista, Somoza, Trujillo, Pinochet, Videla, etc., backed by foreign governments and other self-serving foreign entities. AND YES, better than Cuba’s revolutionary rule since 1959. But pretending Batista, Somoza, Trujillo, Pinochet, Videla, etc., were Mother Teresa-like angels is nothing short of anti-Cuban and anti-American propaganda. There is a reason that the Cuban Revolution was replicated elsewhere in the Caribbean and Latin America. To pretend that is not so is to conveniently ignore two important things — {1) The advent of democratic elections beginning in the 1970s; and {2} the current 191-to-0 support in the UN of Cuba as opposed to America’s Batistiano-style Cuban policy. OH, YES, those who debunk that UN vote are merely hiding behind the skirts of the U.S. government and the U.S. UN veto, although the decent Obama government itself could not bring itself to support in the UN a Cuban policy dictated by a handful of extremists in Miami and in Congress. And those post-Cuban Revolution democratic elections in Latin America began electing former Castro-idol guerrilla fighters like Dilma Rousseff in Brazil, Daniel Ortega in Nicaragua, etc. Rousseff was recently impeached by a coup in Brazil led by a gentleman now in prison and Ortega faces similar opposition in Nicaragua while Madura in oil-rich Venezuela cannot possibly hold-out much longer. Relative to America, how much of what is happening in those Cuba-friendly nations have connections to such things in the U. S. Congress as Helms-Burton, the Torricelli Bill, Wet Foot-Dry Foot, and…the Nica Bill? Uh, just asking.

    So my question is this: Do Cruz, Ros-Lehtinen and Sires expect EVERYONE TO BELIEVE that their anti-Ortega Nica Bill HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH CUBA? Poor little Cuba!! A powerful Cuban who has more to do with day-to-day domestic decisions on the island than the remaining revolutionary icons is Ana Mari Machado. She is not only a powerful and unchallenged Vice President in the Cuban National Assembly but she, in all likelihood, would be democratically elected as Cuba’s next leader if foreign counter-revolutionaries would “allow the island to breathe for a year or two.” That latter quote is from the fiery and very influential student leader on the island, Jennifer Bello Martinez. Not to know leaders like Ana and Jennifer is to not Cuba in the pivotal year of 2017…IN, UH, MY OPINION. Of course, the U.S.-based counter-revolutionaries who demand dictation of America’s Cuban narrative and America’s Cuban policies will disagree and debunk all contrary opinions. So be it. The counter-revolutionaries, it seems, since 1959 have hurt America even more than they have hurt Cuba. AGAIN, I reference the 191-to-0 vote in the UN in the belief that NO OTHER TOPIC IN THE WORLD could possibly attain unanimity in the very divergent United Nations.

  • Freedom from oppressive leaders a hard thing to do, Democratic rule by the people is not easy to pull off.

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