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Menendez, Cruz, Colleagues Introduce Bipartisan Legislation to Address Crisis in Nicaragua


WASHINGTON — Today, Senator Bob Menendez (D-N.J.), Ranking Member of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, was joined by Senators Ted Cruz (R-Tex.), Bill Nelson (D-Fla.), Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), David Perdue (R-Ga.), Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), Tim Kaine (D-Va.) Ben Cardin (D-Md.) and Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) in introducing bipartisan legislation to address the escalating crisis in Nicaragua.

The Nicaragua Human Rights and Anticorruption Act of 2018 requires the imposition of sanctions on Nicaraguan government officials responsible for the deaths of protestors, human rights violations and acts of corruption. It also calls for a negotiated political solution to Nicaragua’s crisis, including the commitment to early elections, and requires intelligence reporting on the involvement of Nicaraguan government officials in corruption and human rights abuses.

“What started as legitimate peaceful protests has turned into a months-long massacre as Nicaragua’s citizens face state sanctioned violence from police and paramilitaries supported by the Ortega regime,” said Sen. Menendez. “We can’t stay silent as Daniel Ortega and Rosario Murillo target their own people, as evidenced by the images of students being shot while seeking refuge inside of a church.  This bipartisan legislation is designed to support a negotiated solution to the Nicaraguan crisis and hold accountable those who believe their participation in gross human rights violations would go unnoticed by the international community.”

“The sanctions we have proposed today would target the center of the violence sweeping Nicaragua: the Ortega regime and its strongmen, who have inflicted a campaign of terror against innocent Nicaraguans. This legislation is the latest step to hold them accountable, and unless these abuses end it won’t be the last,” said Sen. Cruz. “There is a coalescing nexus of security cooperation between Nicaragua, Russia, and Venezuela that poses a direct risk to American national security. Targeting the assets of sanctioned Nicaraguan leaders, as required under this bill, will help reveal the network of financial institutions being utilized for illicit activity.”

“Ortega and his thugs must be held accountable for the abuse and murder of Nicaraguans exercising their fundamental rights,” said Sen. Nelson “This bill makes clear that the United States supports the Nicaraguan people. And it shows the Ortega regime that the international community will not tolerate the steady erosion of democracy and freedom in Nicaragua.”

“The United States must stand in solidarity with the Nicaraguan people as they struggle to defend their rights and restore democracy,” said Sen. Rubio. “In response to the Ortega government’s violent and lethal repression of his own people, this bipartisan bill will require the President to impose sanctions against Nicaraguan officials responsible for ongoing human rights abuses and corruption.”

“It is long overdue for Latin American autocrats like President Ortega to stop enriching themselves and their inner circle of corrupt enablers on the backs of their people and instead restore democratic norms,” said
Sen. Durbin. “I’m proud to join with my colleagues on a bipartisan basis to condemn President Ortega’s and Nicaraguan security officials’ actions and call on them to commit to early elections and a peaceful resolution of Nicaragua’s political crisis.”

"There is no justification for the brutal crackdown against students and other Nicaraguans who are fed up with a corrupt, abusive government,” said Sen. Leahy.  “The way out of this crisis is negotiations and early elections.  I hope President Ortega will put the Nicaraguan people first, rather than the interests of himself and his family.”

The bill also requires the Secretary of State to certify annually whether the Nicaraguan government is taking steps to uphold democratic governance, human rights, and anticorruption standards and waives the imposition of new sanctions if certification occurs.

Senator Menendez has led the charge in Congress for the international community to support the Nicaraguan people, calling for the Organization of American States and the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) to conduct an immediate and comprehensive investigation into the recent violent attacks against civilians and censorship of media outlets in Nicaragua by the Ortega regime.

Most recently, Senator Menendez worked with colleagues in introducing a resolution to condemn the violence perpetrated against the citizens of Nicaragua by the Ortega regime and affiliated armed irregular groups. The resolution also called on the Nicaraguan government to end the repressive practices of its security forces and enact constitutional and legal reforms to protect its citizens.


The text of the bill can be found HERE,