Sens. Cruz, Menendez, Rubio, Colleagues Applaud Final Passage of RENACER Act
WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Sens. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), Bob Menendez (D-N.J.), and Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, along with Reps. Albio Sires (D-N.J.) and Maria Elvira Salazar (R-Fla.), today applauded the House of Representatives’ final passage of the Reinforcing Nicaragua’s Adherence to Conditions for Electoral Reform (RENACER) Act. This legislation would dramatically increase the United States’ response to the continued use of repressive tactics by Daniel Ortega and his government to intimidate, inhibit, or arrest every aspiring opposition candidate ahead of Nicaragua’s scheduled elections on November 7. This bipartisan legislation now goes to President Biden for his signature and enactment.
Upon final passage, Sen. Cruz said:
“Today, Congress sends a unified message to the Nicaraguan regime. Daniel Ortega and his Marxist strongmen have hijacked democratic institutions and criminalized the opposition, resulting in a fundamentally unfree society with a deteriorating economy, governed by fear and repression. The bipartisan, bicameral support of the RENACER Act shows the United States stands unequivocally with the brave Nicaraguans calling for their freedom.”
Sen. Menendez said:
“Today, as the RENACER Act heads to President Biden’s desk for his signature, I am proud to see Congress come together – in a bicameral, common-sense way – to let the people of Nicaragua know we are not turning a blind eye to their cries of desperation. It’s not very often that Republicans and Democrats are able to come together these days to find common ground and address a serious challenge – this bill is a rare exception. We are witnessing the worst authoritarian assault on democracy in Latin America in decades, and I am proud to lead this effort for Congress to act decisively so the Ortega-Murillo regime knows there will be major consequences for the pseudo coronation of their dynastic dictatorship. I look forward to working with President Biden to ensure the swift implementation of the RENACER Act."
Sen. Rubio said:
“Ahead of Sunday’s sham presidential election in Nicaragua, the Congress of the United States is sending a strong message against the corrupt and authoritarian Ortega-Murillo regime and its attempt to subvert the will of the Nicaraguan people. The Biden Administration should swiftly sign this bill into law and work with international allies to coordinate sanctions against this regime.”
Rep. Sires said:
“Having locked up every potential opponent, Nicaragua’s Daniel Ortega will soon hold a coronation ceremony in place of an election. I thank my colleagues in the House and Senate who worked hard to pass this bipartisan legislation, which will improve our sanctions coordination with allies, expand oversight of international financial institutions’ lending to Nicaragua, and hold Ortega accountable for his regime’s crimes against humanity. Today’s passage of the RENACER Act shows that the United States Congress will not stand by as Ortega consolidates a one-party dictatorship and it reflects our firm support for the democratic aspirations of the Nicaraguan people.”
Rep. Salazar added:
“For months, the Nicaraguan people have pleaded for us to help stop Daniel Ortega’s reign of terror. The passage of the RENACER Act will hit Ortega where it hurts just days before he solidifies his dictatorship through his sham presidential elections. It’s past time we review Ortega’s ability to profit from free trade with the United States. Thank you to my colleagues for taking bold action against this evil regime and for standing with the Nicaraguan people during their fight for democracy. The United States is making its message clear – access to American markets is a privilege, and we should not do business with dictators.”
The legislation 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. The RENACER Act also requires the United States government to increase sanctions on key actors in the Ortega regime that prevented democratic elections in Nicaragua, and expand sanctions coordination with Canada and the European Union. The bill also calls for the executive branch to open a formal review to determine whether Nicaragua should be allowed continued participation in the Central America Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA). Additionally, the bill 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).
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.