Foreign governments have targeted President Daniel Ortega amid a months-long crackdown on the opposition.
The United States Congress has approved a law aimed at sharply increasing diplomatic pressure on President Daniel Ortega’s government in Nicaragua, the latest move by a foreign government to crush Managua ahead of this weekend’s controversial election.
The so-called RENACER law was adopted by 387 votes in favor and 35 against in the US House of Representatives on Wednesday. It was approved by the entire Senate in August.
The bipartisan legislation provides an arsenal of measures to tackle what Washington views as corruption and human rights abuses by the government of Ortega and his wife Rosario Murillo, who is also his vice president and running mate. The government has been accused of overseeing a months-long crackdown on the opposition ahead of Sunday’s elections.
The bill will now go to the office of US President Joe Biden, who can either sign or veto the legislation.
The measures include increasing – in coordination with Canada, the European Union and countries of Latin America and the Caribbean – a number of US sanctions against those implicated in human rights violations and obstruction in free elections.
In addition, the legislation extends supervision of loans from international financial institutions to Nicaragua and calls for a review of Nicaragua’s participation in a free trade pact between the United States, Central America and the Dominican Republic.
It also adds Nicaragua to the list of Central American countries with visa restrictions for corruption and demands more intelligence reports on Russian government activities in the Central American country, including reports on sales. Russian soldiers in Managua.
“We are witnessing the worst authoritarian assault on democracy in Latin America in decades,” Senator Bob Menendez, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said Wednesday, “and I am proud to lead this effort to get Congress act. decisively so that the Ortega-Murillo regime knows that there will be major consequences for the pseudo crowning of their dynastic dictatorship.
Senator Rubio, @ SenatorMenendez, @RepSires, & @RepMariaSalazar applauded the passage by the United States House of Representatives of their bill, strengthening Nicaragua’s adherence to the terms of electoral reform #RENACERAct (S.1064). #SOSNicaragua 🇳🇮🇺🇸 https://t.co/2Qy9PtiMuX pic.twitter.com/UrAwpmjp99
– Senator Rubio Press (@SenRubioPress) November 3, 2021
Wednesday’s vote comes as a group of human rights groups including Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch criticized Sunday’s elections, citing an atmosphere of repression, enforced disappearances and restrictions on civil and political liberties .
The elections “do not guarantee human rights,” the NGOs said in a report in which they urged the international community to “redouble their efforts to end the crisis” in the Central American country.
Cannot expect a “legitimate” result
Ortega, 75, is seeking a fourth consecutive term after 14 years in power.
About 40 opposition figures, including seven presidential candidates, have been arrested since June.
Massive protests erupted in 2018, calling for Ortega’s resignation. Hundreds of people have since been killed in the resulting violence.
In their report, human rights organizations cited arbitrary detentions and enforced disappearances and noted that “100 people perceived to be critical remain in detention”.
They also expressed concern about “the lack of independence of the judiciary and violations of the right of access to justice”.
The report came a day after EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell called President Ortega a “dictator” organizing “bogus” elections over the weekend.
“Mr. Ortega has been busy imprisoning all the political candidates who have come forward to run in these elections and we cannot expect this process to yield a result that we can consider legitimate. Quite the contrary, ”Borrell said during a visit to Lima, Peru.
“The situation in Nicaragua is one of the most serious in the Americas today,” Borrell said.