The international community has doubled down on its pressure to demand a change of course from the regime led by Daniel Ortega in Nicaragua. This Tuesday, 59 United Nations countries signed a declaration condemning human rights violations in the Central American country and demanding the release of detained opponents, including five presidential hopefuls. In parallel, the United States Senate Foreign Affairs Committee has given the go-ahead to a bill – baptized as RENACER – which imposes more sanctions on the Managua regime, including the expulsion of the Central American Free Trade Agreement, known as Cafta. The initiative now goes to the Senate for approval and if successful it would be a severe economic blow for the Ortega government.
Political crisis in Nicaragua
“I am very grateful that the Senate Foreign Relations Committee is meeting to send a loud and clear message,” said Democratic Senator Bob Menéndez after announcing the ruling of the Committee he chairs. “There will be consequences for those who try to rob the Nicaraguan people of the opportunity to exercise their most fundamental democratic right to free and fair elections. The law will provide the Biden government with the necessary diplomatic tools to help stabilize the crisis out of Nicaragua’s control and allow Nicaraguans to return their country to democracy and the rule of law, ”he added.
The legislation gives the Biden government ample scope to take actions that allow for pressure to change the Nicaraguan regime, including vetoing loans from international financial institutions and sanctioning those it considers to have participated in human rights violations. The bill also requires the US Administration to review Nicaragua’s participation in CAFTA, the trade agreement that opens the North American market to Nicaraguan products. An important point of the regulation is that it calls for greater control of the Ortega Murillo family’s businesses and Russia’s activities in Nicaragua, mainly over the sales of military equipment made by Moscow to the Ortega government.
“There must be responsibility for Latin American autocrats, such as President Ortega, who enrich themselves and their corrupt facilitators at the expense of citizens and true democracy,” said Democratic Senator Dick Durbin, one of the promoters of the initiative, which has also had the approval of the Republican Marco Rubio.
The State Department has again demanded this Tuesday that Ortega release “immediately” the opponents detained in recent weeks within a new repressive offensive. Ned Price, a spokesman for the State Department, has said that Washington is “alarmed” by the arrests and human rights violations in Nicaragua, mainly by the imprisonment of the presidential hopefuls Cristiana Chamorro, Arturo Cruz, Félix Maradiaga, Juan Sebastián Chamorro García and Miguel Mora. “The United States will continue to use all the diplomatic and economic tools at its disposal to support Nicaraguans’ calls for greater freedom or greater accountability, as well as free and fair elections,” Prince said.
Meanwhile, in Geneva, 59 countries signed a declaration condemning the Managua regime in the framework of the 47th session of the Human Rights Council. The document calls for the release of the detainees, an end to harassment against opponents, and respect for civil liberties. In her speech, the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Michelle Bachelet, assured that the crisis in Nicaragua “has worsened alarmingly” and has denounced the “climate of fear” imposed by the regime. “We continue to document cases of arbitrary detentions by the national police, harassment of the media and independent journalists, which generate a climate of fear that inhibits the exercise of the rights to peaceful assembly, association and expression,” said Bachelet, who has demanded that Ortega release the detainees and end the persecution of dissidents. Nicaraguan Foreign Minister Denis Moncada accused the UN of defamation and assured that the detainees “are sad and unsuccessful employees of US and European imperialism.”
Ortega maintains a strong repression against critical voices in the Central American country. The police have detained two journalists in the last 48 hours, including Miguel Mora, a candidate for the presidency and who had already been arrested in 2018, when Ortega ordered the search and confiscation of his media outlet, the channel 100% News. On Monday night, the house of journalist Carlos Fernando Chamorro, who has been awarded the Ortega y Gasset Prize for his journalistic career, was raided. Chamorro confirmed this Tuesday that he has gone into exile again due to the regime’s siege. He had already gone into exile in Costa Rica in 2019, after the police raided and confiscated the writing of the magazine he directs, Confidential. “My wife Desirée Elizondo and I left Nicaragua to protect our freedom. Doing journalism and reporting the truth is not a crime. I will continue to do journalism, in freedom, from outside Nicaragua, ”said Chamorro on his Twitter account.
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