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Sens. Cruz, Menendez, Colleagues Applaud Senate Passage of Bipartisan Bill to Bolster US Engagement in Nicaragua as Crisis Deepens

WASHINGTON, D.C. - U.S. Sens. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Bob Menendez (D-N.J.), Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), Tim Kaine (D-Va.), Ben Cardin (D-Md.), and Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) today applauded Senate passage of their legislation to dramatically increase U.S. diplomatic engagement in response to the government of Daniel Ortega's continued use of repressive tactics to intimidate, inhibit or arrest every aspiring opposition candidate ahead of the scheduled elections in November.

The Reinforcing Nicaragua's Adherence to Conditions for Electoral Reform (RENACER) Act proposes new initiatives to monitor, report on, and address corruption by Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega's government and family, as well as human rights abuses perpetrated by Nicaraguan security forces. Additionally, the bill includes a provision led by Sen. Cruz that requires increased intelligence reporting on Russian activities in Nicaragua and a review of Russian arms sales to Nicaragua for potential sanctions under the Countering America's Adversaries through Sanctions Act (CAATSA).

Upon Senate passage, Sen. Cruz said:

"The Ortega regime's campaign to dismantle democratic institutions and criminalize opposition has stripped the people of Nicaragua of their fundamental rights. The bipartisan support of the RENACER Act shows the United States of America stands unequivocally with the brave Nicaraguans calling for their freedom."

Sen. Menendez said:

"This is a day of forceful action, the day when the U.S. Senate is saying Daniel Ortega's paranoia of losing at the ballot box is no excuse for his systematic dismantling of Nicaragua's democratic system. Today, we make clear that Ortega's brazen gambit to shackle anybody that dares challenge him will not pay off, and, in fact, our commitment to deliver hope and opportunity to the people of Nicaragua is only beginning. As we shine a spotlight on the spiraling state of affairs in Nicaragua, I will not stop calling for the end of political persecution, including efforts to silence opposition leaders like Arturo Cruz, Cristiana Chamorro, Felix Maradiaga, and Juan Sebastian Chamorro. Governments in our hemisphere and throughout the world must stand in solidarity with the citizens of Nicaragua and against the consolidation of a third tin-pot dictatorship in Latin America."

Sen. Rubio said:

"I welcome the Senate's passage of our bipartisan bill, RENACER. With this unanimous vote, the U.S. is sending an unequivocal message of support to the Nicaraguan people. Our nation must use all tools to hold accountable the repressive Ortega regime, and his family, accountable. I urge the House of Representative to swiftly pass this bill."

Sen. Kaine said:

"The U.S. must continue to take action against the Ortega regime for its ongoing arrests of political rivals and violence against opposition leaders. As Chair of the Western Hemisphere Subcommittee, I'm proud our legislation has passed this crucial milestone to send the people of Nicaragua a strong message that we stand with them in their quest for democracy and freedom."

Sen. Cardin said:

"We must continue to press for a return to democracy and support free, fair, and transparent elections in Nicaragua. I am proud that we are taking the necessary steps to hold the Ortega government accountable for its many acts of repression and corruption that continue to harm the Nicaragua people. The United States must always stand up for democracy and human rights throughout the Western Hemisphere."

Sen. Murphey added:

"The RENACER Act allows us to target Nicaraguan officials who seek to derail the country's electoral process and protect democracy-a key tenet of U.S. foreign policy. By passing this legislation, the United States Senate sends a clear signal that we stand with the Nicaraguan people, and I look forward to getting this bill signed into law."

The RENACER Act includes the following elements:

  • Aligns U.S. diplomacy and targeted sanctions to promote democratic elections, including a review of key Nicaraguans that have dismantled prospects for free, fair, and transparent elections;
  • Calls for the executive branch to review Nicaragua's continued participation in the Central America Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA);
  • Expands oversight of international financial institutions' lending to Nicaragua and reaffirms the existing statutory waiver for humanitarian projects;
  • Requires sanctions coordination with Canada and the European Union;
  • Adds Nicaragua to the list of Central American countries subject to corruption-related visa restrictions;
  • Requires classified reporting on corruption perpetrated by President Ortega's government and family, as well as Russian government activities in Nicaragua;
  • Requires reporting on Russian military sales to Nicaragua and a review for potential sanctions under the Countering America's Adversaries through Sanctions Act (CAATSA); and
  • Requires reporting on human rights abuses committed by Nicaraguan security forces in rural and indigenous communities.

Read the full text of the bill here.


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