Without opposition, the U.S. Senate passed Representative Ileana Ros-Lehtinen’s Nicaraguan Investment Conditionality Act.
The goal of the bill is to cut off “loans at international financial institutions for the government of Nicaragua, other than to address basic human needs or promote democracy, unless the government of Nicaragua is taking effective steps to hold free, fair, and transparent elections, and for other purpose.”
In October, making her case for the proposal, Lehtinen detailed “Our bill is aimed at leveraging America’s influence and conditioning our vote at any of the international financial institutions for Nicaragua until the leadership in that country takes significant steps to restore democratic order. And what are some of those conditions: promote democracy, as well as an independent judicial system and electoral council; strengthen the rule of law; combat corruption, including investigating and prosecuting government officials that are credibly alleged to be corrupt; and protection of the right of political opposition parties, journalists, trade unionists, human rights defenders, and other civil society activists to operate without interference. These conditions are similar to what this Congress has already passed for the Northern Triangle countries of Honduras, Guatemala, and El Salvador.”
She also explained that “This bill is intended to help the people of Nicaragua. This bill has safeguards in place to ensure that humanitarian assistance continues to be provided to address basic human needs. Some of those basic needs, such as free and fair elections, are not being met today due to the failed leadership in Nicaragua. Reports have surfaced that the Nicaraguan electoral council is giving away identity cards so that minors can be allowed to vote; Nicaraguans who are not on the electoral rolls will be allowed to vote. So what does that mean? It means there will be no way to determine if the individual voted more than once, and that is exactly how the status quo wants it so that it can manipulate the results of the elections. We are also seeing civil society leaders publicly expressing their concern regarding the deteriorating human rights situation in the country and, as a result of speaking out against the government, have been targeted for persecution. Indigenous communities have also expressed their concern regarding land grabs by the government; and violence is breaking out as the Nicaraguan military is being dispatched to squash the peaceful protests by these communities.”