Foreign Relations Committee Passes Menendez Sanctions Bill on Nicaragua

Foreign Relations Committee Passes Menendez Sanctions Bill on Nicaragua

   

WASHINGTON – Today, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee approved legislation authored by Ranking Member Bob Menendez (D-N.J.), imposing targeted sanctions on Nicaraguan government officials responsible for human rights violations and calling for a negotiated solution to the country’s ongoing crisis. Approved by a voice vote, the amended version of the Nicaragua Human Rights and Anticorruption Act of 2018 (S. 3233) includes restrictions on lending to the Ortega government by international financial institutions, as proposed in the Nicaragua Investment Conditionality Act (NICA Act, H.R. 1918).

“The world has watched in horror as Nicaraguan police and paramilitaries have turned their guns against the Nicaraguan people. Today’s vote for this effort shows that the United States will not stand idly by as the Ortega regime brutalizes its citizens and kills more than 300 protestors,” Senator Menendez said. “This bipartisan legislation aims to hold Ortega, Murillo, and their cronies accountable for their crimes, while offering much-needed support for a negotiated solution to this crisis. Time is of the essence for Nicaraguans, and I will work with my colleagues to have this commonsense legislation swiftly approved by the full Senate.”

Senator Menendez, who introduced this bill in July, has led the fight in Congress to defend the human rights of Nicaraguans, calling for an investigation by international organizations and introducing a resolution to condemn the Ortega-Murillo regime.

The amended text of the bill can be found here.

Key elements of the amended legislation include:

  • Support for a negotiated solution to Nicaragua’s crisis that includes a commitment to hold early elections that meet democratic standards and a cessation of violence.
  • Targeted sanctions on Nicaraguan government officials responsible for human rights violations, corruption, or undermining democratic processes.
  • Restrictions on lending by international financial institutions to the Ortega government, with an exception that ensures continued funding for projects that advance democracy and the basic needs of the Nicaraguan people.
  • An annual waiver that would lift the requirement to impose sanctions if State Department certifies that the Ortega government is taking steps to hold democratic elections, improve human rights conditions, combat corruption, and strengthen the rule of law.
  • Increased intelligence reporting on Nicaraguan officials’ role in corruption and human rights violations, and the transfer of arms to Nicaraguan security forces.

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