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Menendez Leads Senate Effort to Approve Nicaragua Sanctions Legislation

WASHINGTON – Senator Bob Menendez (D-NJ), Ranking Member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, issued the following statement after the Senate unanimously approved the Nicaraguan Investment Conditionality Act (H.R.1918, the NICA Act). The bipartisan legislation seeks to impose targeted sanctions on Nicaraguan government officials responsible for human rights violations and calls for a negotiated solution to the country’s ongoing crisis. The final text of the legislation, which now heads back to the House of Representatives for final passage, was drawn directly from Menendez’s Nicaragua Human Rights and Anti-Corruption Act (S.3233).

“Today’s passage of the NICA Act shows that the United States Congress will not stand idly by as the Ortega regime continues its dictatorial campaign of extrajudicial killings and repression against the people of Nicaragua. This bipartisan legislation will hold Ortega, Murillo, and their accomplices accountable for their widespread human rights abuses and for plundering state coffers for their own profit. This bill also ensures that U.S. sanctions will target the Ortega regime without affecting the Nicaragua people, and offers much-needed support for a negotiated solution to this crisis.”

The bipartisan NICA Act includes targeted sanctions on Nicaraguan officials involved in human rights violations, restrictions on lending to the Nicaraguan government by international financial institutions, and increased intelligence reporting on corruption in Nicaragua. It also expresses congressional support for a negotiated solution to Nicaragua’s ongoing crisis, in which security officials and paramilitary groups have murdered more than 300 Nicaraguans for protesting the government of Daniel Ortega and Rosario Murillo.

The full text of the bill can be found here. The legislation:

  • Supports credible negotiations that include a commitment to hold early elections that meet democratic standards, the cessation of violence perpetrated against civilians, and independent investigations into the killings of more than 300 protesters.
  • Requires sanctions on Nicaraguan government officials responsible for acts of human rights violations, corruption, or undermining democratic processes.
  • Requires the President to instruct the U.S. Executive Director at each international financial institution to use U.S. influence to impose certain restrictions on any loan for the government of Nicaragua's benefit.
  • Establishes an exception in U.S. sanctions for financing and lending for humanitarian programs, projects that address the basic human needs of the Nicaraguan people, or initiatives that promote democracy and human rights in the country.
  • Requires increased intelligence reporting on Nicaraguan officials’ role in corruption and human rights violations.