Sen. Cruz: ‘The U.S. Stands With the People of Nicaragua’
Sens. Cruz, Leahy introduce bipartisan Nicaraguan Investment Conditionality Act; Cruz commends Administration for sanctioning President of Nicaragua’s Supreme Electoral Council
December 22, 2017
WASHINGTON, D.C. -- U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) and Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), along with Sens. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), Bob Menendez (D-N.J.), David Perdue (R-Ga.), Dick Durbin (D-Il.), and Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.) introduced the Nicaraguan Investment Conditionality Act (NICA). This bipartisan legislation aims to hold President Daniel Ortega and his regime accountable for its corrupt practices and abuse of human rights by conditioning U.S. approval of international loans to the Government of Nicaragua. A similar effort led by Reps. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla.) and Albio Sires (D-N.J.), passed the House of Representatives this past October.
“The Ortega regime has gone unchecked for far too long. Hijacking electoral institutions and repressing the opposition has severely undermined democratic order and the will of the people. It is incumbent on the U.S. to address Ortega’s brazen overreach and incentivize meaningful reform," Sen. Cruz said. “If we allow Nicaragua’s ruling elite to exploit international loans to further embed their corrupt enterprises with anti-American regimes, we are turning a blind eye. From Venezuela’s petro-dollars scheme to Russia’s arms sales and intelligence operations – this external influence will solidify the future for the people of Nicaragua, and raises national security implications not only for the U.S., but for all of our allies throughout the Western Hemisphere.”
“The United States should strongly support the rights of people in this hemisphere to freedom of expression and association, free and fair elections, an independent judiciary, and the rule of law,” Sen. Leahy said. “In Nicaragua, President Ortega has subverted the institutions of democracy to enrich himself and consolidate his hold on power. That is not something the international financial institutions, which receive significant U.S. taxpayer funds, should condone or support. This bill is intended to send a message to the Nicaraguan Government, and to the Nicaraguan business community, that corruption and impunity have a price.”
“As we witness a backsliding of democratic values and norms throughout the western hemisphere, the United States must define new policies that help us partner with Latin American governments and international organizations to strengthen governance and the rule of law in the region and restore public confidence in democratic institutions,” said Sen. Menendez. “We believe Nicaraguans deserve a transparent government that fairly represents the will of the people and works on their behalf, and this bipartisan legislation is a recognition that our national security is strengthened when our neighbors in the region are better able to protect the rule of law, strengthen pro-democracy organizations, and uphold free and fair elections.”
"While most of Latin America has moved forward in strengthening their democracies, a few countries such as Nicaragua and Venezuela have tragically gone backwards -- enriching a small corrupt elite while undermining key democratic norms and institutions,” Sen. Durbin said. “That they do so on the backs of their own people while blaming outside forces is even more tragic and cynical."
“Our nation has a very long history of supporting human rights and protecting democracy around the world. This measure is a signal that America remains committed to the principles and ideals that make our country so great,” Sen. Capito said.
Additionally, Sen. Cruz praised the decisive action by the Administration this week to designate and sanction Roberto Rivas, President of Nicaragua’s Supreme Electoral Council, pursuant to the Global Magnitsky Human Rights Accountability Act.
“Roberto Rivas represents a pervasive abuse of power which has been institutionalized in Nicaragua,” Cruz added. “On behalf of the Ortega regime, Rivas has engaged in fraudulent activity to consolidate control and secure wealth at the expense of the Nicaraguan people. This week’s designation puts all those who abuse power on notice; you are not untouchable.”
The Nicaraguan Investment Conditionality Act would require:
- The President to instruct the U.S. Executive Director at each international financial institution to use the voice and vote of the U.S. to oppose any loan for the Government of Nicaragua, other than to address basic human needs or to promote democracy, unless the Secretary of State has certified and reports to congress that the Government of Nicaragua is taking effective steps to:
- hold free and fair elections overseen by credible domestic and international electoral observers;
- promote democracy, as well as an independent judicial system and electoral council;
- strengthen the rule of law;
- respect the right to freedom of expression and association
- combat corruption, including investigating and prosecuting government officials credibly alleged to be corrupt;
- protect the right of political opposition parties, journalists, trade unionists, human rights defenders, and other civil society activities to operate without interference; and
- protect the rights of indigenous people.
- A report by the Secretary of State, in consultation with the intelligence community, on the involvement of senior Government of Nicaragua officials in acts of public corruption, money laundering, or human rights violations in Nicaragua.
- A report by the Secretary of State, in consultation with the intelligence community, describing the extent of cooperation by the Governments of Russia and Venezuela with the Government of Nicaragua and its armed forces and security personnel.
The full text of the Nicaraguan Investment Conditionality Act may be viewed here.