“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

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.

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